Summit Roundup: Russia’s use of chemical weapons will ‘trigger’ NATO response, Biden says

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


President Biden said Thursday that if Russia were to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, it “would trigger a response in kind” from NATO. Biden made the remark in response to a reporter’s question at a joint press conference in Brussels where the president has been meeting with leaders of NATO, the EU, and the G7. 

When asked if the U.S. had specific intelligence that Russia is planning to use chemical weapons, Biden declined to comment on intelligence data but said “we would respond if he uses it,” adding that “the nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.” 

Biden also said Russia should be banned from its membership in the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies.

“My answer is yes, depends on the G20,” Biden said, when asked if Russia should be removed from the group. He also said that if any G20 countries don’t agree to remove Russia, Ukraine should be permitted to attend the meetings.

Biden gets testy with reporter over sanctions query

The president appeared to lose his cool in another exchange when a reporter asked how he thought the latest round of sanctions would change Putin’s behavior, since previous steps appear to have been ineffective in doing so.

“Let’s get something straight … I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him,” Biden said. “Sanctions never deter – you keep talking about that – sanctions never deter. The maintenance of sanctions, the maintenance of sanctions, the increasing the pain and the demonstration, why I asked for this NATO meeting today, is to be sure that after a month, we will sustain what we’re doing not just next month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year, that’s what will stop him,” the president continued, raising his voice.

When another reporter asked the president if he believes NATO’s expansion of sanctions will prompt Russia to change course, Biden snapped, “That’s not what I said. You’re playing a game with me.”

Key members of the Biden administration, however – including Vice President Kamala Harris, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby – have repeatedly stated that the U.S. did, in fact, impose sanctions as a deterrent to Putin’s aggression. 

Biden to visit Poland

President Biden will visit Poland today in his final stop in Europe this week, where he is expected to thank the Poles for welcoming in millions of Ukraine refugees and reaffirm America’s commitment to protect its NATO ally. Biden on Thursday said the U.S. would take in 100,000 displaced Ukrainians. At least 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees have been taken in by Poland so far. 

The visit follows the public communication debacle that occurred when the U.S. agreed to facilitate a shipment of warplanes to Ukraine on behalf of Poland. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 6 agreed to the arrangement; however, the Pentagon rejected the offer three days later.

Western leaders agree to send more aid to Ukraine

World leaders attending the unprecedented triple summit in Brussels vowed to provide Ukraine with more military and humanitarian aid Thursday as they continued to denounce Russia’s war on its neighbor as “barbarism,” referring to Moscow’s deliberate attacks on Ukrainian civilians. 

“Putin has already crossed the red line into barbarism,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

NATO announced plans for new combat units in four eastern European countries near Ukraine. The United States and Britain separately pledged to increase aid to Ukraine and expand economic sanctions against Russian elites, including the stepdaughter of Russia’s foreign minister, according to Reuters.

The European Union assembled to work out a strategy to wean itself off of Russian oil and gas, which accounts for 40% of the EU’s collective energy needs and over a quarter of all its imports. The U.S. has agreed to supply European countries with liquified gas.

In response to the Brussels summits, Moscow said the West’s decision to lend military support to the “Kyiv regime” is responsible for the war. Meanwhile, Alexander Lukashenko, pro-Moscow leader of Belarus, warned that Poland’s proposal yesterday to deploy a Western peacekeeping force in Ukraine “will mean World War III.”