What are thermobaric rockets? New weapon ‘Putin could unleash on Ukraine’

Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine could likely escalate if Vladimir Putin uses thermobaric weapons to flatten the former Soviet territory, worried experts have warned.

Thermobaric weapons are considered to be one of the most brutal war weapons that exist.

The missiles are filled with a highly explosive fuel and chemical mix, which, on exploding can cause supersonic blast waves that can obliterate everything in its path, including buildings and humans. They are also known as aerosol bombs or vacuum bombs.

Among the Russian weapons which have been seen moving towards the capital, Kyiv, and other cities are TOS-1, which are thermobaric rocket launchers. They are not used for precision strikes but can be deployed for clearing stretches of ground.

Peter Lee of the University of Portsmouth, explained how these bombs work in 2016, after Russia allegedly used them in Syria.

“Imagine taking a deep breath then submerging yourself in water. Then imagine having all of the oxygen forced instantaneously from your body. Try to inhale again. But instead of cold water filling your lungs, toxic, flammable particles start killing you from the inside out,” he wrote.

Only blasts caused by nuclear attacks are worse. Russia has allegedly used these missiles in Chechnya and Syria.

“Broad range of military equipment seen in RUS [Russian] invasion, including TOS-1 series thermobaric multiple-barrel rocket launchers. Whilst strikes have been relatively limited thus far, the TOS-1 has potential for serious HR [human rights] violations, especially given RUS [Russia] use history (e.g., Chechnya),” said NR Jenzen-Jones, an arms and artillery intelligence specialist.

Russian forces have launched coordinated missile and artillery attacks on Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, in Europe’s worst conflict in decades that was launched by Vladimir Putin on Thursday. As the world watched events unfold with shock and horror after Mr Putin’s announcement on Thursday, leaders condemned the invasion and imposed sanctions against Russia.

Heavy street fighting against Russian troops is underway in Kyiv on Saturday as officials urged locals to take immediate shelter. Kyiv was struck by two missiles. As many as 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed since the invasion began.

In his address on Thursday, while declaring war on Ukraine, Mr Putin warned Ukrainians to lay down arms immediately and go home and return to their families. “All servicemen of the Ukrainian army who comply with this requirement can freely leave the area of military actions and return to their families,” he had said.

He followed it with a dangerous warning: “Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats to our country, to our people should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history. We are ready for any outcome.”