US President Joe Biden issued one of his strongest warnings yet on Monday that Russia is considering using chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Biden said Russia’s false accusations that Kyiv had biological and chemical weapons illustrated that President Vladimir Putin was considering using them himself.
Putin’s “back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe, simply not true,” Biden said at a Business Roundtable event.
“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine. That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those.”
Russia accused Ukraine of having a biological weapons program
Washington and its allies have previously accused Russia of spreading an unproven claim that Ukraine had a biological weapons program as a possible prelude to using such weapons itself.
Russia alleged earlier in March that Ukraine with U.S. assistance is developing biological weapons. The charges have been made by Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, and Dmitry Chumakov, a Russian deputy UN ambassador.
The US dismissed the claims as “laughable” and White House press secretary Jen Psaki described them as “preposterous”, adding: “This is all an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify its further pre-meditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine.”
Olivia Dalton, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, said: “This is exactly the kind of false flag effort we have warned Russia might initiate to justify a biological or chemical weapons attack.
“We’re not going to let Russia gaslight the world or use the UN Security Council as a venue for promoting their disinformation.”
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby called the Russian allegations “a bunch of malarkey.”
Biden travels to Europe to discuss sanctions against Russia
Biden is due to travel to Europe this week for meetings with allied leaders to discuss tighter sanctions on Russia, on top of the unprecedented financial penalties already announced. Ahead of the trip, he discussed Russia’s “brutal” tactics in a call with European leaders on Monday, the White House said.
Russia’s siege and bombardment of Mariupol port, which European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “a massive war crime,” is increasing pressure for action.