No indication of imminent Russian chemical weapons attack in Ukraine, says U.S. defense official

Nearly a month into the war, Russian troops have failed to capture a single major city and their advance has been halted



Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

By Reuters

Published: Tue 22 Mar 2022, 8:51 PM

The United States has not yet seen any concrete indications of an imminent Russian chemical or biological weapons attack in Ukraine but is closely monitoring streams of intelligence for them, a senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden said on Monday, without providing evidence, that Russia’s false accusations that Kyiv has biological and chemical weapons illustrated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering using them himself in the war against Ukraine.

The U.S. official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, shared Biden’s assessment but added: “There’s no indication that there’s something imminent in that regard right now.”

Nearly a month into the war, Russian troops have failed to capture a single major city and their advance has been halted on nearly all fronts by Ukrainian defenders. Moscow has instead turned to bombarding cities with artillery, missiles and bombs.

The United States has warned that Putin, feeling cornered, and with supplies of conventional munitions becoming more constrained, might turn to other weaponry.

U.S. officials have accused Russia of spreading an unproven claim that Ukraine had a biological weapons program as a possible prelude to potentially launching its own biological or chemical attacks.

“They continue to talk about this and it’s a Russian playbook tactic,” the defense official said.

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The United States was monitoring intelligence for signs of an imminent attack, including “any indications that they have moved chemical or biological weapons into Ukraine.”

“We just haven’t seen that bear fruit yet, and we certainly don’t want it to. But there’s a variety of things that we’re looking at,” the official said.

Without providing evidence, Russia’s defense ministry has accused Ukraine of planning a chemical attack against its own people in order to accuse Moscow of using chemical weapons in the attack on Ukraine that began on Feb. 24.

Earlier this month, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, warning him of consequences for “any possible Russian decision to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.” The White House did not specify what those consequences would be.


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