Biden threatens ‘severe consequences’ if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine

The United States is increasing its warnings against Russia, as it fears chemical weapons may soon be used in the invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at the White House this week, U.S. President Joe Biden said if chemical weapons are used in Ukraine, Russia will face severe consequences.

Biden did not specify what those consequences would be, but said any direct military engagement between NATO and Russia would lead to World War III.

“Something we must strive to prevent,” he insisted.

Alexander Lanoszka, who teaches European Security at the University of Waterloo tells CityNews he’s not sure what the response from NATO allies would be. However, he noted the hesitation to directly attack Russia and pointed out when the weapons were used in Syria, the west was not as strong as it should have been.

“Russia may have concluded rightly or wrongly that the use of chemical weapons will not generate as strong a response,” he said.

Lanoszka says if Russia does use these weapons, it will be to terrify and demoralize the people in a war that it is finding much more difficult to win than it thought.

Lanoszka admits it’s not clear if those consequences would include direct military engagement.

“I just do not know what the response would be. And I really hope that the Biden administration is wargaming potential scenarios to this effect,” he said.

The U.S., Canada, and other NATO allies have been hesitant to directly step in, saying it would lead to World War III.

The international community for years has assessed Russia used chemical weapons in carrying out assassination attempts against Putin enemies like Alexey Navalny, now in a Russian prison, and former spy Sergei Skripal, who lives in the United Kingdom. Russia also supports the Assad government in Syria, which has used chemical weapons against its people in an 11-year-long civil war.

With files from Edith Lederer, The Associated Press

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