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President Joe Biden said the United States “would respond” if Russia deployed chemical weapons in Ukraine, though he declined to explain what that response could include.
Biden was asked Thursday if the United States and NATO would respond militarily if Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine. Biden promised a response, but hedged on whether the response would include the U.S. military or other NATO forces.
“We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use,” Biden said.
The U.S. and NATO have already dropped heavy sanctions on Russia, including on its lucrative energy sector, though thus far the U.S. has refrained from cutting off Russia’s uranium trade. Russia is one of the top uranium producers in the world and supplies. About half of the uranium used in U.S. nuclear plants is supplied by Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
The reporter also asked Biden what evidence the U.S. and NATO have that Putin is considering using a chemical weapon. Biden declined to reveal that information.
“We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use,” Biden says when asked whether the US or NATO would respond with military action if Russia uses chemical weapons.
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) March 24, 2022
Putin is reportedly considering escalating the Ukraine conflict through use of chemical weapons, but the U.S. and NATO are preparing for the potential use of biological or nuclear weapons, as well. The White House has reportedly assembled a team of national security experts to develop a strategy should Putin order such a strike, as well as decide on under what conditions the United States would join in the Russia-Ukraine war, according to The New York Times.
“The Tiger Team, as the group is known, is also examining responses if Mr. Putin reaches into NATO territory to attack convoys bringing weapons and aid to Ukraine, according to several officials involved in the process. Meeting three times a week, in classified sessions, the team is also looking at responses if Russia seeks to extend the war to neighboring nations, including Moldova and Georgia, and how to prepare European countries for the refugees flowing in on a scale not seen in decades,” the Times reported.
A senior administration official told the Times that “all bets are off” if Putin decided to use even a “small” nuclear weapon inside Ukraine. The official declined to say what kind of response has been discussed among administration officials should that hypothetical become reality.
Biden traveled to Brussels on Thursday to meet with other NATO leaders on the Russia-Ukraine war after saying earlier this week that Putin had put off a “clear sign” that he is considering use of biological and chemical weapons in the conflict.
On Monday, Biden said that Putin’s “back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe – simply not true. I guarantee you.”
“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those. He’s already used chemical weapons in the past, and we should be careful of what’s about to come,” Biden added.