Horrifying new footage shows flesh-eating thermite bombs raining down on a Ukrainian village as desperate Russian President Vladimir Putin steps up his attacks on civilians.
Terrifying footage shows the night sky in Ozerne village in the Donetsk region lit up by a chilling rain of sparkling, burning thermite – a killer chemical mixture.
The drone footage was geolocated in Ozerne, which stands just a few kilometres from the frontline and was liberated on September 4, The Sun reports.
The chilling 12-second video was posted on Twitter by Ukrainian MP Roman Hryshchuk, who commented: “This is horrible”.
Thermite, a mixture of metal powder and metal oxide, is used in the making of incendiary bombs.
It burns at temperatures of more than 2400C – so, hot it can burn through steel and concrete, and if it comes into contact with human flesh, it can melt through right down to the bone.
Experts from the Ukrainian Military Centre claim Russian troops are able to launch the 9M22S incendiary munition that use a thermite mixture using BM-21 Grad or BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launchers from their ground positions, as part of their defence strategy.
Indeed, while thermite may only have a limited impact on military targets, it is a weapon with wide-area effects that could be devastating to civilians.
The new video evidence comes as a “panicking” Vladimir Putin has been accused of ramping up attacks against civilians as he loses grip on his bloody invasion of Ukraine.
This week, the Ukrainian army announced it had made huge gains and consolidating positions across the Oskil river – which represents the last natural obstacle before the border with Donetsk.
Russian troops’ ‘panic’
The Ukrainian counteroffensive – bolstered by Western-supplied weaponry – comes as demoralised Russian troops have withdrawn in “panic” from their positions along the River Oskil, according to local newspaper The Kyiv Independent.
Those fleeing have left behind hundreds of vehicles and machinery, and potentially thousands of casualties.
Russian politicians this week announced that soldiers could face 10 years in the gulag if they desert, surrender or loot, RIA Novosti reported on messaging app Telegram.
A proposal presented to the Russian Duma stated that failure to comply would result in giving “from two to three years in prison for refusing to participate in hostilities, and if it caused serious consequences, from three to 10 years.”
This new proposal comes as a new intercept released by the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry showed the Russian command in Donetsk Oblast has forbidden its troops to retreat under the threat of being shot.
Amid an apparent Russian panic, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) released a statement detailing Mr Putin’s aggressive change in the pattern of missile strikes on Ukrainians.
It is reported that Russian military efforts have increased attacks on civilians in the last week, with the aim to “undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government,” the MoD said.
As was the case in Ozerne, every 9M22S missile carries a 9H510 warhead – formed of 180 incendiary combat elements used to destroy enemy manpower and equipment by creating mass fires, as well as direct hits.
Human Rights Watch previously warned deadly thermite can cause extremely painful burns on the human skin and can lead to respiratory problems.
The use of thermite weapons is significantly dangerous as their wide range means they cannot be contained on the battlefield – and the effects could hit civilians.
The use of thermite as an incendiary weapon is now considered a war crime.
Its use was banned by the third protocol of the 1980 UN Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva.
“It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons,” the Convention’s Article 2 reads.
This comes less than a week after Ukraine uncovered a mass grave of over 440 people in the northeastern city of Izyum that was recaptured as part of the operation.
Though it’s not confirmed Russian troops were behind the executions, Ukraine said it was further evidence of “war crimes” committed by Russian forces.
On Monday, Mr Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said: “It’s a lie.”
Oleg Synegubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said on Monday: “Some of the dead have signs of violent death, there are bodies with tied hands and traces of torture. The deceased were also found to have mine-explosive injuries, shrapnel and stab wounds.”
The vast majority of those found were said to be civilians, including many children.
Russia’s army has been almost totally pushed out of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region since Ukraine started its latest counteroffensive to regain territory.
“Luhansk region is right next door. De-occupation is not far away,” Haidai wrote on Telegram.
As Russia continues to lose ground, separatist leaders of four Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine have announced they are planning to hold elections on whether to join Russia.
As part of the Kremlin’s desperate efforts to swallow up Donetsk and Luhansk (Donbas), Kherson and partially Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia, residents will vote in a move that could “irreversibly” redefine Russia’s borders.
This could be seen as a stepping stone for Russia to mobilise more personnel should the provinces agree to the annexation.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission