Russian officials reported to President Vladimir Putin that they had destroyed the latest artillery shells filled with toxic agent VX in the country. The task was carried out at the Kizner facility in the Urals, one of seven facilities built in Russia to destroy chemical weapons, in work that has spread over two decades and cost billions of dollars.

Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, praised Russia for a “big milestone” with the destruction of its chemical arsenal.

“I congratulate Russia and congratulate all the experts who were involved for their professionalism and dedication,” he said in a statement.

OPCW oversees global efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons warehouses under the Chemical Weapons Convention which came into effect in 1997. He

said that more than 96 percent of the weapons declared by the 192 convention participants have been destroyed.

Putin stressed that Russia ended up destroying its arsenal ahead of schedule, adding that the effort underscored its country’s commitment to non-proliferation efforts.