Boris warns Russia could use chemical weapons as Ukrainians seen 'fighting for food'

11 March 2022, 00:39 | Updated: 11 March 2022, 07:15

Boris Johnson has warned Russia could use chemical weapons
Boris Johnson has warned Russia could use chemical weapons. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson has warned that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine while locals have been seen "attacking each other for food".

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The Prime Minister said the potential escalation was "straight out of Russia's playbook", adding that Russia would already be preparing a "fake story" to blame the West after having already accused the US of developing its own chemical weapons.

He also reiterated that a no-fly zone would not be imposed over Ukraine, amid concerns it could lead to a Third World War.

By Friday, it was reported that the large armoured column north west of Kyiv had begun to move, with the Russians now potentially just nine miles from the city centre after apparently getting bogged down.

Read more: Russian armoured convoy 'on the move' as Klitschko warns Kyiv is now a 'fortress'

It comes as Russia, on Thursday evening, called for a UN Security Council meeting to take place on Friday to discuss what it claims are "the military biological activities of the US on the territory of Ukraine".

Meanwhile, Red Cross revealed that starving Ukrainians had resorted to "attacking each other for food" and looting pharmacies in besieged cities for access to the essentials.

Sasha Volkov, deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross's delegation in the city, spoke of the grim conditions particularly in Mariupol.

"Some people still have food, but I'm not sure for how long it will last," he said.

"Many people report having no food for children. People started to attack each other for food. 

"People started to ruin someone's car to take the gasoline out."

Read more: Ukraine will not be 'chopped up' for a peace deal, Zelenskyy's advisor tells LBC

Read more: 'Ukrainian propaganda': Russia says pic of pregnant woman in hospital attack is 'fake'

A maternity hospital in Mariupol was also recently hit by a Russian air strike, leaving children stuck in the wreckage.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Johnson said: "What's happened in Mariupol in that maternity hospital really shows that Putin is prepared just to reject, to abandon, all norms of civilised behaviour.

"The difficulty is that there is a line beyond which, quite frankly, the UK and Nato would be deemed to be in conflict - direct conflict - with Russia.

"It's agonising. It's absolutely agonising. And I've had this conversation at least a couple of times now with Volodymyr, but I think the difficulty is that it will require me to order RAF jets, UK pilots into the air with a mission to shoot down Russian fast jets.

"I think we've got to be realistic... there's a line that is very difficult to cross."

He went on to say: "They start saying that there are chemical weapons that have been stored by their opponents or by the Americans and so when they themselves deploy chemical weapons, as I fear they may, they have a sort of maskirovka, a fake story, ready to go."

Mr Johnson's comments followed a speech by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in the US on Thursday, where she said that allies need to rally together to "be tough, get peace".

She added that the West's prior "illusions" that "the spread of peace and stability was inevitable" had been "shattered" by Mr Putin's aggression towards his neighbour.

"We knew what Putin was doing. We had the intelligence... but actually we didn't need it, because Putin announced his designs on Ukraine in public," she said.

"He set his plans down in black and white and put them up on the Kremlin's website. But still we didn't want to believe it.

"Well, we believe it now. The world has woken up. The era of complacency is over. We must rise to this moment."

It followed the decision by the UK Government on Thursday to u-turn on the visa system for Ukrainian refugees.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a streamlined online application system after coming under fire for the speed of processing in recent days.

More than two million Ukrainians are thought to have fled the Russian invasion so far, with most escaping to Poland.

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