Chemical weapons: NATO to provide Ukraine with equipment to counter Russian threat

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance had agreed to provide Ukraine with equipment to protect against chemical, biological and nuclear threats from Russia.

Speaking at the NATO emergency summit in Brussels on the war in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said the program included medical support and training in contamination and crisis management.

It comes amid fears that if the Russian campaign becomes increasingly bogged down after the early onslaught failed to achieve its objectives, Vladimir Putin could seek to escalate the conflict or resort to a spectacular atrocity to tip the scales. balance in favor of Moscow.

The NATO chief said leaders were worried, “partly because we see the rhetoric and we see that Russia is trying to create some sort of pretext” that it might use “chemical and biological weapons” in Ukraine.

“Any use of chemical weapons will completely change the nature of the conflict” and “will have far-reaching consequences,” he added.

“It will affect the Ukrainian people, but there is also a risk that it will have a direct effect on people living in NATO countries.”

“Our senior military commander, General [Tod] Wolters has activated the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense elements of NATO,” he said of the decision to provide Ukraine with material support.

NATO must provide “even more military assistance”

Stoltenberg told reporters that NATO leaders had agreed on the creation of “four new battlegroups” in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, bringing the total to “eight multinational NATO battlegroups now from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea”.

Describing a long-term NATO deterrence reset, the Secretary General said he would see the deployment of “substantially more forces…with heightened vigilance”, with more fighter jets, systems missile defences, submarines and combat ships.

The reset also includes plans to improve cyber defense capabilities.

NATO leaders also agreed it was “vitally important” that they provide “even more military assistance” to Ukraine, including in cybersecurity, Stoltenberg said.

He said the “substantial military supplies” provided so far by NATO to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, “are proving to be very effective”.

But he said leaders wanted to avoid a further escalation of the conflict “because it could be even more dangerous and even more devastating”.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Stoltenberg stressed the importance of providing Ukraine with more support, which he said was needed “to be able to respond and deal with any threat, any challenge to our security and the kind of decisions they might make in Moscow”. .

“President Putin made a big mistake, and that is to start a war to wage war on an independent and sovereign nation. He underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of the Ukrainian people and the armed forces, and so they are also encountering a lot more resistance than expected,” the NATO chief said.

Zelensky demands 1% of all NATO weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on NATO leaders to donate 1% of their weapons to Ukraine as they met in Brussels a month after Russia launched the invasion.

Speaking ahead of the emergency NATO meeting, he demanded that it cover aircraft, tanks, a rocket system, anti-ship weapons and air defense equipment, adding that “Russia uses everything his arsenal against us”.

“Ukraine does not have powerful anti-missile weapons. It has much smaller planes than Russia. Therefore, their advantage in the sky is the use of weapons of mass destruction. And you see the consequences today: how many people have been killed, how many peaceful towns have been destroyed.”

“You have thousands of fighter jets! But we haven’t been given any yet. We have called in tanks so we can unlock our cities which are now dying,” he continued.

“You have at least 20,000 tanks! Ukraine has asked for a percentage, one percent of all your tanks! Give us or sell to us. But we don’t have a clear answer yet.

“The worst part of war is not having clear answers to requests for help,” he said.

“After such a war against Russia, I ask, never again, never tell us that our army does not meet NATO standards. We have shown what our standards are capable of and how much we can contribute to global security in Europe and around the world, whatever we can do to protect ourselves from aggression against everything we value, what you value,” he added.

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