220412 Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses South Korean parliament via video link, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 11, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine and called on the West to impose strong sanctions on Moscow that would deter even talk of the use of such weapons.

There were unconfirmed reports on Monday suggesting that chemical weapons were used in the besieged southern Ukrainian port of Mariupol.

“We treat this with the utmost seriousness,” Zelensky said late on Monday. He did not say chemical weapons had already been used.

“I would like to remind world leaders that the possible use of chemical weapons by the Russian military has already been discussed. And already at that time it meant that it was necessary to react to the Russian aggression much harsher and faster.” Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the mayor of Mariupol, wrote on his Telegram channel reports about a chemical attack had not been confirmed and that he expected to provide details and clarifications later.

The Russian invasion, which has killed thousands and displaced millions, has shifted from the gates of Kyiv to the east of Ukraine, with a huge offensive expected there. The European Union said on Monday that more sanction on Russia are an option.

“It is time to make this package in such a way that we would not hear even words about weapons of mass destruction from the Russian side,” Zelensky said. “An oil embargo against Russia is a must. Any new package of sanctions against Russia that does not affect oil will be received in Moscow with a smile.”