In the event of Russia using chemical weapons in Ukraine, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will retaliate, said US President Joe Biden.
“The single most important thing is for us to stay unified and the world continue to focus on what a brute this guy is and all the innocent people’s lives that are being lost and ruined,” Biden told reporters in Brussels, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Biden’s Europe trip for the series of high-level meetings, is designed to underscore Washington’s willingness to defend NATO allies, as fears rise that the month-old war in Ukraine could yet spark what he has called “World War III”.
Around the capital, Kyiv, and other areas, Ukrainian defenders have fought Moscow’s ground troops to a near-stalemate, raising fears that a frustrated Putin will resort to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
With the war headed into a second month, the two sides traded heavy blows in what has become a devastating war of attrition.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has also said that Russia may find a pretext to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons.
“We are concerned partly because we see the rhetoric and we see that Russia is trying to create some kind of pretext accusing Ukraine, the United States and NATO allies of preparing to use chemical and biological weapons,” he told reporters after a NATO summit in Brussels, adding any use of chemical weapons would have widespread consequences.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with the Western allies via video for planes, tanks, rockets, air defense systems and other weapons, saying his country is “defending our common values.”
He said thousands of people, including 128 children, have died in the first month of the war. Across the country, 230 schools and 155 kindergartens have been destroyed. Cities and villages “lie in ashes,” he said.
The Russian invasion unleashed on February 24 has killed thousands of people, sent 3.6 million abroad, smashed cities and driven more than half of Ukraine’s children from their homes, according to the United Nations.