The UK's Ministry of Defence has said Russia has admitted to using thermobaric weapons in its invasion of Ukraine.
Alongside the announcement of Russia's use of the weapons, the Ministry of Defence released an explainer video that describes the TOS-1A as an 'armoured multiple rocket launcher that can launch rockets with thermobaric warheads'.
See the video below:
The Russian MoD has confirmed the use of the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine. The TOS-1A uses thermobaric rockets, creating incendiary and blast effects.— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) March 9, 2022
Watch the video below for more information about this weapon and its devastating impact.
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/d8PLQ0PhQD
Thermobaric weapons operate by sucking in oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion.
In turn, this blast can produce a wave that lasts significantly longer than a typical explosive, and which are capable of vaporising human bodies, Sky News reports.
The TOS-1A has previously been used in both Afghanistan and Chechnya, with the MoD describing the impact of the weapon as 'devastating'.
It continues: 'It can destroy infrastructure, and cause significant damage to internal organs, and flash burns, resulting in death to those exposed.'
The weapons are not illegal, but their use is 'strictly regulated by the law of armed conflict'.
Fears about Russia's use of such weapons increased after the Ukrainian ambassador to the US said a vacuum bomb, which is another term for the weapon, had been used during the invasion, which began on February 24.
Dr Marcus Hellyer, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, previously said it was only 'a matter of time' before Russian forces began deploying the weapon system.
Hellyer has noted the weapons were effective at their 'specific purpose' of 'primarily destroying defensive positions', and said that while they would not be used to penetrate a tank, they could be a 'very destructive weapon' against buildings.
Per The Guardian, he said: 'They are not illegal even though their effects can be pretty horrific, because of that effect of creating a vacuum and sucking the air out of the lungs of defenders... One of the things we know about Russian tactics is that they are willing to destroy everything.
'It’s clear that the Ukrainians are hunkering down in some of the cities... as that continues the Russians are going to resort more and more to using... whatever weapons they have including thermobaric weapons in built-up urban areas,' he continued.
There have been a number of reported sightings of thermobaric rocket launchers in Ukraine since the start of the conflict.
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