Thermobaric missiles were reportedly used in Ukraine by the Russian military. The use of these weapons is highly regulated by the Geneva Convention because of their destructive power. Why are they so formidable?
Ukrainian ambassador claimed Russia used thermobaric bomb
In Ukraine , footage showing TOS-1A multiple rocket launcher vehicles near urban areas has sent shivers down the spine of military experts. Otherwise called Buratino, the TOS-1A is based on a Soviet T-72 tank structure.
It is what is in its 24 tubes of 220 mm in diameter that is worrying. The launcher is lined with rockets with a thermobaric charge. By the lethality and the destruction which it involves, this type of armament is the ultimate armament before the tactical missiles equipped with nuclear heads.
These are clearly what are called weapons of mass destruction. Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, accused Russia of having used these thermobaric munitions in Ukraine at least once. According to her, their use under these conditions violates the Geneva Convention. These weapons would have potentially bombarded residential areas of Kharkiv, the second largest city in northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border.
Temperature can reach 3,000°C
Thermobaric munitions are known by other names such as: fuel-air explosives, spray cans and vacuum bombs. When it comes close to its target, the warhead detonates a charge that vaporizes a liquid . This comes to mix with the air .
It is after this that a second explosive compresses and ignites the air with a temperature that can reach 3,000°C. This has the effect of generating an overpressure practically twice as powerful and longer than that generated by a conventional warhead . Unlike the latter, a big depression immediately intervenes to cause even more damage.
A powerful deadly blast effect
Walls and buildings don’t really provide protection. They even amplify the effects of the explosion by generating significant shock waves. These thermobaric weapons are nothing new.
They were used by the Russian army in Grozny, Chechnya, with the results that we know. For once, the TOS-1A are not operated by artillery, but by special NBC units, that is to say specialized in nuclear , radiological, biological and chemical weapons.
Their presence alone is intimidating, to the point of making them a sufficiently deterrent weapon to gain ground without too much effort.
Their potential use, since February 24, the date of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, comes to feed a list of acts that may be similar to war crimes. Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, has announced that he is opening an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity that have allegedly taken place in the territory since the beginning of hostilities, that is to say from 2014 with the war in the Donbass.