Ukraine has accused Kremlin-backed militants on targeting its serviceman with unidentified optical radiation devices since 2016.
Ukraine believes that the soldiers were likely targeted with blinding laser devices, which Russia brought to Donbas to test its new advanced technology in battlefield conditions, Kyivpost reported Monday.
According to the report, at least six Ukrainian servicemen deployed to the Donbas war zone have suffered serious eye damage from these devices. Since the war’s outbreak in 2014, there have been at least three such incidents recorded by the State Border Service and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
“Above all, the servicemen who were watching the location through monoculars had only one of their eyes injured, while the one using binoculars had both eyes burned,” Border Service’s spokesperson, Oleh Slobodyann was quoted by the news daily as saying.
If independently confirmed, the usage of such weapons can be qualified as a war crime, according to international law.
On July 18, 2016, three Ukrainian border guards deployed to a forward checkpoint between the city of Maryinka just west of Russian-occupied Donetsk suffered severe eye injuries as they surveyed enemy territory in front of them through binoculars and monoculars, the report stated.
According to Slobodyan, the details of the incident leave little doubt that the Russian-backed militants used laser weaponry.
“All of them saw a specific flash of light which could also indicate the use of laser weapons. Furthermore, the medics that analyzed the traumas say that such injuries are caused by lasers,” Slobodyan said.
Slobodyan added that the blinding ray likely emanated from the direction of Russian-backed forces approximately one kilometre away.
However, the actual specifications of the laser device used remain unknown to Ukrainian side.
“We can say that they more likely just tested (the blinding laser),” Slobodyan said. “It’s not a secret that Russia uses Donbas as its testing ground for new weapons.”