US response to Russian chemical weapons would be 'in kind': Biden

Biden says, 'We would respond if he uses' chemical weapons

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President Biden on Thursday said the United States response to Russia’s potential use of chemical weapons would "trigger a response in kind," but said the type of response would depend on "the nature of the use."

During a press conference in Brussels, Belgium after Biden participated in an emergency NATO meeting to discuss international efforts to support Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion, he was pressed on if the United States has collected intelligence that suggests the Kremlin is moving to deploy chemical weapons.

"We would respond," Biden said. "We would respond if he uses it."

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President Biden speaks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine during a news conference after a NATO summit and Group of Seven meeting at NATO headquarters, Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Brussels. 

President Biden speaks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine during a news conference after a NATO summit and Group of Seven meeting at NATO headquarters, Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Brussels.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When pressed whether Russia’s use of chemical weapons could prompt a military response from the U.S. and NATO allies, Biden maintained that there would be some type of response.

"You're asking whether NATO would cross – we’d make that decision at the time," Biden said.

This week, Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov refused to say Russia would not use nuclear weapons if it thought Russia could be destroyed. Peskov said the conditions were consistent with Russia’s national security concept.

"If there’s a threat to the very existence of our country, it can be used in accordance with this concept," Peskov stated in response to the question of whether Russia’s use of nuclear weapons could be completely ruled out, according to the Russian government-controlled news site TASS.

Last week, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, last week, spoke with the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Gen. Nikolay Patrushev, and called for Russia to "stop attacking" Ukrainian cities and towns, while warning of "consequences" should Russia decide to use any chemical or biological weapons on Ukraine.

Sullivan's warnings about Russia's possible use of chemical weapons comes after the White House warned that Russia could use "chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine" or could create a "false flag operation" using them, after the Kremlin accused the U.S. of being involved in biological weapons research at Ukrainian labs.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has voiced "deep concerns" about Russia’s "alignment" with China, as intelligence officials said that the Kremlin had turned to Beijing for economic and military aid after its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The president had a secure video call with Chinese President Xi last week for nearly two hours in which he warned of the "consequences" should China "provide material support" to Russia amid its multi-front war on Ukraine.

"I made no threats, but I made it clear to him to make sure he understood the consequences of him helping Russia," Biden said Thursday, describing his conversation with Xi. "I made no threats. But I pointed out the number of American and foreign corporations who left Russia as a consequence of their barbaric behavior."

Biden said he was focused on "making sure" Xi knew he would be "putting himself in significant jeopardy" with the west economically should he move to aid Russia.

Biden also said Thursday that Putin was "banking on NATO being split."

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"My earlier conversation with him in December, in early January, it was clear to me he didn’t think we could sustain this cohesion," Biden said. "NATO has never, never been more united than it is today." 

Biden added that Putin is "getting exactly the opposite of what he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine." 

"We’ve built that same unity with the European Union and with leading democracies of the G7," Biden said.