Sunday

25th Feb 2024

Nato warns of Russian chemical weapons threat

  • Nato leaders met Thursday one month into Russia's war on Ukraine (Photo: nato.int)
Listen to article

Nato leaders have redoubled warnings for Russia not to use chemical weapons or worse in Ukraine amid concern the damage could spill over into neighbouring countries.

"Any use by Russia of a chemical or biological weapon would be unacceptable and result in severe consequences," Nato leaders said in a joint statement in Brussels on Thursday (24 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

They also agreed to send chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protective equipment to Ukraine and to share know-how on crisis management in case it was needed.

Allies' concern was mounting because Russian propaganda has been laying the groundwork for a false-flag attack on Ukraine using internationally banned weapons, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said after Thursday's meeting.

"Any use of chemical weapons will totally change the nature of the conflict," he said.

"There's also a risk that it will have a direct effect on people living in Nato countries, because we can see contamination, we can see the spread of chemical agents or biological weapons into our countries," he added.

And Russia had a track record of chemical weapons use in the UK, Syria, and inside Russia itself, Stoltenberg noted.

Thursday's emergency Nato summit was called one month after Russia invaded its neighbour and began pounding Ukrainian cities with conventional firepower to try to break resistance. It comes on the same day as EU leaders held a summit and the leaders of the G-7countries also gathered in Brussels in a show of unity.

The Nato meeting saw Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky address Western leaders by video-link from Kyiv. Zelensky spoke "eloquently" and appealed for more Western arms supplies, a US official told press.

US president Joe Biden also spoke of Russia's "brutal war" and promised Ukraine "significant, and increasing, amounts of security assistance to fight Russian aggression and uphold their right to self-defence" in a brief statement to media.

There were "very credible reports about the use of military force against civilians" Nato's Stoltenberg said.

And Western allies would continue to supply anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and drones to Ukraine despite Russia's aggressive rhetoric about outside interference Stoltenberg noted.

"[Russian president] Vladimir Putin has already crossed the red line into barbarism," UK prime minister Boris Johnson also said.

Thin blue line

Despite the moral outrage, Western allies have categorically ruled out sending their soldiers into Ukraine in any role, such as peacekeepers, in order to avoid a Russia-Nato confrontation.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that this conflict does not become a full-fledged war between Nato and Russia," Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

"We will not deploy troops on the ground in Ukraine because the only way to do that is to be prepared to engage in full conflict with Russian troops," he said.

Nato already has 40,000 soldiers in four multinational battalions in the Baltic states and Poland in order to deter Russia from aggression against Nato territory.

The US also has some 100,000 soldiers stationed in Europe for the same reason.

The Allied measures designed to deter Russia also include warplanes on air-policing flights, anti-missile systems, and warships and submarines from the High North to the Mediterranean Sea, Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

And when Nato leaders meet again in Madrid in two months' time, they will detail plans to send some 40,000 more troops to new Russia-deterrent battalions in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia in future.

"So this is long term," Stoltenberg said. "We are prepared for the long haul because we can already say today that the Russian invasion, president Putin's invasion of Ukraine has changed our security environment," Stoltenberg said.

The war was the "gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades", the Nato leaders' joint statement said.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  2. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win
  3. EU paid Russia €420-per-capita for fossil fuels since war began
  4. After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports
  5. Creating the conditions for just peace in Ukraine
  6. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  7. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  8. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us