For weeks now, US officials have claimed without evidence that Russia could use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, and President Biden is now warning that NATO will “respond” if there is a Russian chemical weapons attack.
“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 at a press conference from NATO headquarters in Brussels.
When asked if that meant NATO would respond with military force, Biden said it would “trigger a response in kind, whether or not — you’re asking whether NATO would cross; we’d make that decision at the time.”
While the US has been warning of potential Russian chemical attacks, an anonymous Pentagon official said Tuesday that there’s no sign Moscow is planning to use the weapons. “There’s no indication that there’s something imminent in that regard right now,” the official said.
When asked if the US had gathered specific intelligence that Russia might use chemical weapons, Biden said, “I can’t answer that. I’m not going to give you intelligence data, number one.”
The US started accusing Russia of plotting to use chemical or biological weapons when Russia’s claims about Pentagon-linked biological labs in Ukraine became a major news story. While the Biden administration is downplaying the labs as much as it can, there are biological labs in Ukraine funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).
The US maintains that the work at the labs is meant to reduce the threat of Soviet-era bioweapons. Robert Pope, the director of the DTRA’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, has warned that the labs could contain pathogens leftover from the Soviet Union’s biological weapons program.