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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has called the reported use of chemical weapons by Russia in Ukraine “a further wholesale breach of international law”.

She said the reports were, “a further indication of President (Vladimir) Putin and Russia’s absolute violation of every single value and every single rules-based aspect of the rules-based global order”.

Ms Payne said Australia will be working to verify the reports.

Australia and other Western nations are investigating reports Russia used chemical weapons against the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. (AP)

After reports emerged today of a possible strike involving chemical substances of some kind in Mariupol, Ukraine’s President warned the possibility should be taken seriously, though a Mariupol official said any such attack remained unconfirmed.

In his nightly address on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia might be preparing to escalate attacks on the besieged south-eastern city.

“Today, the occupiers issued a new statement, which indicates that they are preparing a new stage of terror against Ukraine and our defenders,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

“One of the occupiers’ spokesmen said that they could use chemical weapons against the defenders of Mariupol. We take this as seriously as possible.”

Ivanna Klympush, a Ukrainian MP, tweeted an unknown substance in Mariupol was “most likely” chemical weapons.

The US and British governments said they were working to confirm the reports.

The US Defence Department said it was following the situation in Mariupol.

“We are aware of social media reports which claim Russian forces deployed a potential chemical munition in Mariupol, Ukraine,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that she was working “urgently with partners” to investigate the reports of a possible chemical attack in Mariupol.

“Reports that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the people of Mariupol. We are working urgently with partners to verify details,” Ms Truss wrote.

“Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime to account.”

Cemetery destroyed as aftermath of Russia’s attacks surveyed

– Reported with agencies

Source: 9News

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