As fighting continues between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk separatist region, reports in several Russian media outlets accused Ukrainian forces of sabotaging the Avdiivka advanced chemistry plant in the region.
"On March 13, the retreating militants of the nationalist battalions carried out sabotage at the Avdiivka plant in the Donetsk region. As a result, a fire broke out at the enterprise, from which acrid toxic smoke spread to the surrounding settlements," the Russian Ministry of Defense said.
"Because of ongoing fighting, it is not possible to extinguish the fire."
The alleged incident occurred after Russia made several claims, with no evidence, that Ukraine was operating chemical and biological weapons development labs in cooperation with the US.
Fears of a Russian false-flag chemical attack to "prove" the existence of such labs have been expressed by several world leaders, including Poland's president Andrzej Duda, who said in an interview on Sunday that "the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia would be a game-changer and NATO would have to think seriously about how to respond."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared similar concerns, saying in an interview with Sky News on Thursday that he feared Russia would deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine.