Conflicts & War

NATO head warns chemical attack will change nature of Ukraine conflict

Brussels, Mar 24 (EFE).- Any chemical attack by Russian forces in Ukraine would change the nature of the conflict because it could affect the military bloc’s allied nations, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Thursday.

However, Stoltenberg did not elaborate if it would mean a defensive military reaction from the United States-led alliance.

“I am not going to speculate beyond the fact that NATO is always ready to defend, protect, and react to any type of attack against an allied country,” he said.

Stoltenberg spoke to reporters upon his arrival in the Belgium capital ahead of a NATO summit to address the crisis in Ukraine following the Feb.24 Russian invasion and review the military bloc’s defenses in Eastern Europe.

He was asked if NATO considered the possibility of the use of chemical weapons in the Ukraine war.

“Any use of chemical weapons would vastly change the nature of the conflict, would be a flagrant violation of international law, and would have widespread and severe consequences,” the NATO head said.

He said using chemical weapons posed the risk of contamination to larger areas that could even reach NATO territories.

The bloc is meeting to discuss more support for Ukraine, including supplying protective equipment to battle contamination in case of a possible chemical, biological, or even nuclear attack.

The alliance is worried that Russia using biological weapons had grown even more after “false claims” by Moscow that Ukraine was producing chemicals weapons.

Russia may use the claim as a pretext for such an attack, said the alliance.

NATO leaders also plan to deploy more forces to eastern members Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.

The new deployments will join the forces that have been in Poland and the Baltic countries since 2017.

The bloc is also preparing to review the need to reset its “deterrence and defense in the longer term.”

Stoltenberg said it was necessary to do “more and, therefore, it is necessary to invest more.”

“There is a new sense of urgency and I hope leaders will agree to step up defense investmentsf to meet our commitment,” he said.

Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin had made “a big mistake by invading an independent and sovereign nation of Ukraine.

“He has underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their armed forces,” he said.

However, he reiterated that the alliance would not send troops or military jets to Ukraine to prevent the conflict from escalating.

“That would cause more suffering, death, and destruction,” he said.

He said imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine as Kyiv has sought would mean “attacking Russian air defense systems in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.”

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