Joe Biden 'disgraced' US at NATO summit says expert
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Addressing a press conference after a summit of NATO leaders in Brussels, the US president delivered the warning in a show of defiance against the Russian aggressor. At least 1,035 Ukrainians have died and 1,650 been wounded, according to the UN, while UNICEF says more than 3.6 million have fled the war – half of them children.
Speaking about Russia’s actions, Mr Biden said an attack using chemical weapons “would trigger a response in kind”.
Asked if the alliance would take military action, Mr Biden said: “It would trigger a response in kind.
“You’re asking whether NATO would cross… we’d make that decision at the time.
“We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”
The surprise statement comes as previously Mr Biden stressed that the US and NATO would not send soldiers to Ukraine owing to fears of a direct military confrontation with Russia.
He went on to say a decision would be made at the time, adding that Putin had miscalculated on the West’s response to the war.
He said: “Putin was banking on NATO being split.
“It was clear to me that he didn’t think we could sustain this cohesion. NATO has never, never been more united.
“Putin is getting exactly the opposite of [what] he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine.”
Addressing what would happen if Putin deployed weapons of mass destruction, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “You have to have a bit of ambiguity about your response, but I think it would be catastrophic for him if he were to do that, and I think that he understands that.”
However, he said Mr Biden was right to warn about the threat, adding: “When the Russians start doing stuff about ‘there are factories in Ukraine producing American biological weapons’, you know that is a prelude to a false flag operation.”
During a three-hour NATO meeting, the 30 heads of state and government discussed steps to counter Russia’s invasion, which has now entered its second month, including how to respond should Putin deploy chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.
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Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, said there were signs that Russia was preparing to use chemical or biological weapons.
He said: “We are concerned because we see that Russia is trying to create some kind of pretext accusing Ukraine, US and NATO allies for preparing to use chemical and biological weapons.
“We have seen before that this way of accusing others is actually a way to try to get a pretext to do the same themselves.
“Any use of chemical weapons will totally change the nature of the conflict with wider consequences. This is a dangerous situation.”
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