(Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) Were Ukrainian peace negotiators poisoned? The article reports both yea/nay viewpoints. My attention is drawn to an opinion that presumably originates from the U.S. intelligence community. Quoting,
Reuters reported that an anonymous US official said the incident was caused by “environmental” factors and not poisoning. And later an official in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office told the BBC that the Ukrainian delegation was “fine” and that a negotiator had called the poisoning story “false.”
In dissent, my inclination is yes, they were poisoned. The IC doubtless have one of the world’s most comprehensive test panels for poisons. It may omit one poison so common, you can order it from an art supplies store, or in a Korean restaurant. The dish is called Rhus Chicken. See (PubMed) Ingestion of Rhus chicken causing systemic contact dermatitis in a Korean patient.
Urushiol is Japanese lacquer. It has been in use for several millennia. We know it as the irritant of poison ivy. The several-week duration of poison ivy skin irritation could be shortened to that experienced by the negotiators with a solution of reduced urushiol concentration in a solvent with higher mobility. A suitable carrier solvent could be DMSO.
That one of the negotiators was unaffected supports this theory; about 28% of humans are unaffected by urushiol. This is likely not the first use. See Alexei Navalny, Poisoned Again? The Russian Poison Trick. Quoting,
The Russian arsenal also includes agents of embarrassment, such as the dioxin TCDD, used against Viktor Yushchenko in 2004. In July 2019, Navalny asserted he was “poisoned” in his Moscow jail cell. (Reuters) Kremlin critic Navalny says he may have been poisoned. The nonlethal swelling and skin irritation could have been caused by urushiol, the cause of poison ivy. A subtle warning?
As pure chemistry, the preceding article, Russian Use of CW Agents in Ukraine, in Detail, has limited readership. This title includes “Political Implications” for humanistic summation: The perpetrators have violated a chivalric tradition thousands of years old, spanning many cultures: safety of the emissary or guest. Though lethal consequences have not (yet) manifested, this is a death-rides-a-horse moment, an overt expression of ancient otherness that should henceforth be at the forefront of our thoughts.
This implies that the ambitions of Putin’s “inner cabinet” (see Exploiting Cracks in the Kremlin; Putin, the New Stalin?) may not be as deflectable by rational pressure as we might hope. Yet the Ukrainians are more deserving of our support than they were on the first day.
Planning should begin now to sustain Ukraine against the assault of a possibly better Russian army, with massed armor, in early summer.