Nato to send hazmat suits to Ukraine amid concerns Putin could use chemical weapons - GulfToday

Nato to send hazmat suits to Ukraine amid concerns Putin could use chemical weapons

Rescuers work at the site of the National Academy of State Administration building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv. AP

Nato leaders have agreed to supply hazmat suits to Ukraine and prepare for Vladimir Putin to use chemical and biological weapons, following a meeting in Brussels.

The action agreed on Thursday comes as the alliance says it will double the number of battle groups defending the alliance’s eastern border in light of the Russian invasion.

The measures were approved at a top-level meeting in Brussels to discuss how to respond to the invasion – with leaders pledging to send more arms to the country and boost military spending.

At the major summit at Nato headquarters on the outskirts of the Belgian capital, leaders also agreed to step up defences against chemical and biological attacks, amid fears Russia could use the weapons.

ukraine war 22 A Ukrainian firefighter sprays water inside a house destroyed by shelling in Kyiv. AP

Boris Johnson also addressed Russian claims about supposed chemical plants in Ukraine.

When the Russians start doing this stuff [saying] ‘there are factories in Ukraine producing American biological weaponry’, you know that that is a prelude to a false flag operation and they could well do something,” he told reporters.

“But I think it will be a profound and a disastrous mistake for Putin, were he to do that,” he said. “I think it would be catastrophic for him if he were to do that. And I think that he understands that.”

Officials say Nato has no “direct” intelligence to suggest Mr Putin is preparing to use chemical weapons, but that Russian rhetoric has concerned them.

“Putin tends to do the things he talks about,” one western official said. “He also tends to do what he says other people are about to do.

“There is protective equipment we can supply to Ukrainians such as clothing, wash-up kits, detection kits.”

 People examine the damage after shelling of a shopping centre in Kyiv. AP

General secretary Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that Nato forces would be bolstered “from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea” and suggested the use of chemical weapons would change the situation dramatically.

The alliance chief told reporters outside the meeting that leaders agreed to “continue to impose unprecedented costs on Russia” and to reinforce their own and Ukraine’s defences.

He said assistance pledged for Ukraine included new anti-tank and air defence systems, as well as drones – which he said were so far “proving highly effective” – alongside “substantial financial and humanitarian aid”.

The summit approved the creation of new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia – in addition to the four already in the three Baltic countries and Poland.

The alliance is planning to ignore restrictions under Nato's treaties that say it should not permanently base substantial forces on its eastern fringes.

“Our approach to the Nato Russia founding act is to ignore it,” one western official said.

The diplomat said that at the meeting “every ally agreed that the Nato Russia founding act should not constrain us” and that some wanted it to be declared “null and void”.

Further details of the major reorganisation of the alliance in light of the Russian aggression will be agreed a further summit in Madrid in June.

The meeting also a video message from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who diplomats said gave a “strong and passionate appeal” to leaders.

The Independent

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