Biden offers new Ukraine assistance, warns Russia about chem weapons

On Thursday, President Joe Biden and Western allies promised new sanctions and humanitarian assistance in response to Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

Biden offers new Ukraine assistance, warns Russia about chem weapons

However, their promises fell short of the more robust military aid that President Volodymyrzelenskyy requested in two live-video interviews.

Biden also stated that the U.S. would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, though many prefer to remain closer to home. He added that $1 billion will be provided in food, medicine and water.

The Western leaders met Thursday to discuss next steps in countering Russia's month old invasion. They also discussed how they would respond if Putin used chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. They met at a trio of emergency summits, which saw them travel across Brussels to attend back-to–back-to–back meetings of NATO and the Group of Seven industrialized countries as well as the 27-member European Council.

Biden warned in a news conference that Russia would launch a chemical attack after the meetings.

"You are asking whether NATO would cross. Biden stated that we would make that decision at the moment.

A White House official later stated that this did not mean any shift in U.S. policy against direct military action in Ukraine. Allies of NATO and Biden stressed that the U.S. would not send troops to Ukraine.

The official could not speak publicly and was therefore restricted to speaking only under the condition of anonymity.

Zelenskyy was grateful for the promised help but made it clear to his Western allies that he needed much more than what they are currently willing to offer.

Zelenskyy asked NATO members, "One percent of your planes, one per cent of your tanks," These can't be bought. All this will give us 100% security, just like you.

Biden stated that more aid was in the pipeline. The Western leaders were careful not to escalate the conflict outside of Ukraine's borders.

"NATO made the decision to support Ukraine in this conflict without going to war against Russia," stated Emmanuel Macron, French President. "We have therefore decided to intensify and organize our ongoing efforts to prevent any escalation.

Already, billions of dollars worth of military hardware has been donated. An American official who asked anonymity to discuss internal discussions said that Western nations were considering the provision of anti-ship weapons in the wake of concerns that Russia would launch amphibious attacks along the Black Sea coast.

Biden stated that his top priority during Thursday's meetings was to ensure that the West continued to be on the same page regarding its response to Russian aggression towards Ukraine.

He stated, "The most important thing is that we stay united."

Finland sent more military equipment to Ukraine on Thursday, the second shipment it made in three weeks. In response to Russia's invasion, Belgium also announced that it would add 1 billion euros to its defense budget.

Washington will also increase its sanctions against Russia, targeting both members of the country’s parliament and defense contractors. The U.S. stated that it would also cooperate with other Western countries to ensure that gold reserves held at Russia's central banks are not subject to any existing sanctions.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned China not to come to Moscow's aid, as Russia is increasingly isolated. He urged Beijing to "join the rest of the globe and condemn the war against Ukraine, and not support Russia."

Stoltenberg also stated that the West had to "responsibility" to stop this conflict becoming a full-fledged War in Europe.

In Brussels, the possibility that Russia might use chemical or nuclear weapons has been a topic of discussion.

Stoltenberg stated that NATO leaders had agreed to send equipment to Ukraine on Thursday in order to protect it from a chemical weapons attack.

He said, "This could include detection gear, protection, and medical support as well as training in decontamination management and crisis management."

White House officials stated that NATO and the U.S. have been working together to plan contingency plans in case Russia uses non-conventional weapons. NATO has prepared forces that can be deployed in case of an attack on a nation's territory, population or forces.

According to a senior administration official, the White House National Security Council began efforts immediately after the invasion. Its "Tiger Team" is responsible for planning three months ahead and a second strategy group that will work on a longer-term review of any possible geopolitical shift. The official spoke under anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly.

Both teams are preparing contingency plans for possible scenarios such as Russia's use of chemical and biological weapons, targeting U.S. security personnel in the region, disruptions of global food supply chains, and the growing refugee crisis.

Before departing for Europe on Wednesday, Biden stated that the possibility that a chemical attack could be a "real danger".

On Thursday, Sanna Marin, Finland's Prime Minister, warned that Russia is capable of doing anything.

Marin stated to reporters that they don't follow any rules. Marin stated that the group doesn't respect international laws they have actually agreed to.

Stoltenberg stated that the NATO summit must respond to "a new security reality" in Europe after the Russian invasion.

National budgets will be under pressure due to the NATO-led bolstering of forces on NATO's eastern flank.

The European Council summit is particularly focused on the energy crisis that has been exacerbated by war. Leaders from Spain, Portugal and Italy are seeking a coordinated, urgent response across the bloc to this topic. Officials from the EU have stated that they will seek U.S. assistance to create a plan to increase natural gas storage capacity for next winter and also to purchase gas jointly with the bloc.

Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, has rejected calls to boycott Russian energy supplies. He said it would cause serious damage to his country’s economy. Scholz is under pressure from environmentalists to withdraw Germany from Russian energy as soon as possible, but he stated that this process would need to be gradual.

Scholz stated Wednesday that "to do so from one to the other would mean plunging both our country and Europe into recession."

Ursula von der Leyen is the head of the executive arm of the European Union. She stated before Biden's visit, that she would like to talk about the possibility of getting additional liquefied natural gases from the United States to the 27-nation bloc for "the next two winters."

90% of natural gas used in the EU's electricity generation, heating homes, and supply industry is imported by the EU. Russia supplies almost 40% of EU's gas and 25% of its oil. The EU is looking to diversify its suppliers in order to decrease its dependence on Russian natural gas.

According to Jake Sullivan (Biden's national security advisor), the U.S. is seeking ways to "surge LNG supplies to Europe to aid."

Poland and the other NATO countries on the eastern flank will be looking for clarity from the U.S. about how they can help them deal with growing concerns over Russian aggression and the refugee crisis. In the last week, more than 3.5 million people fled Ukraine to seek refuge in Europe. This includes 2 million who fled to Poland.

Biden will visit Poland Friday. There, the refugee and energy issues are expected to be the focus of talks with President Andrzej Da.

In Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, four new NATO battlegroups are being established. These units usually consist of between 1,000 and 1,500 troops.


 

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