On January 22, 2019, the Information Resistance group published photos of chemical containers “made in Ukraine” found in Syria. It seems to be another episode of the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine Ukraine’s international image in the lead-up to the elections by accusing Ukraine of violating international norms and non-proliferation regimes. There were numerous allegations about the Ukrainian military preparing chemical attacks in The Donbas during the last few months. Russian-backed separatists made these allegations first, which were later repeated by Mr. Alexander Lukashevich, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the OSCE.
One might think that the issue of using chemical weapons would be too sensitive a topic to exploit. Any state or non-state actor accused or suspected of such an activity surely faces harsh international condemnations and possible response. Moreover, it may be true that one party could attempt to provoke another in an effort to damage the international image of their so-called adversary. Accusing Ukraine of using chemical weapons as an information attack may even be as effective as a real attack by trying to elicit a harsh response from the international community. This potential damage to Ukraine’s image seems to be yet another attempt to delegitimize Ukraine’s upcoming presidential elections.