Biden: 'United' Nato would 'respond in kind' to Russia as chemical attack fears mount

25 March 2022, 00:15 | Updated: 25 March 2022, 00:30

Joe Biden said Nato is united against Russian aggression amid growing fears of a chemical attack
Joe Biden said Nato is united against Russian aggression amid growing fears of a chemical attack. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

US President Joe Biden has said Nato is "united" and warned the alliance would "respond in kind" to a chemical attack as concerns mount about their usage in Ukraine.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

When asked if such an attack would trigger a military response from the alliance, Mr Biden said: "It would trigger a response in kind."

He added: "The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use."

Read more: Talk of nuclear weapons is a 'distraction' from 'barbarism' in Ukraine, says PM

Read more: 15,000 people illegally deported to Russia from Mariupol, officials say

He also said Putin had expected Nato to be divided in its response to the invasion of Ukraine, but in reality it "had never been more united".

"Putin was banking on Nato being split. It was clear to me that he didn't think we could sustain this cohesion," he said.

"Nato has never, never been more united.

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

It comes as fears grow Putin could turn to chemical weapons as his more conventional methods of warfare do not seem to be having the desired effect.

Veronica, a Ukrainian national with family in Ukraine, told LBC she fears a chemical attack is the next step but said she did not want to tell her family in Kyiv because she did not want to dampen their optimism.

"At the moment... I have a dying feeling of chemical weapons might be the next step," she told LBC's Tom Swarbrick.

"And obviously I'm not telling my family that because I don't want to panic them."

Read more: Boris wants to punish Putin by going for Russia's gold as 'he already crossed red lines'

Read more: Concert for Ukraine: Chancellor announces VAT on tickets to be donated to charity

Boris Johnson said any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by Russia would be "viewed with utter horror" by world leaders.

"There is a visceral horror of the use of these weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"I think that if Putin were to engage in anything like that, the consequences would be very, very severe."

He added: "I think it would be catastrophic for him if he were to do that, and I think that he understands that."

Nato leaders agreed on Wednesday that Russia using chemical weapons would mark a "fundamental change" in the Ukrainian conflict that would be met with a "very severe response".

Mr Johnson also warned against allowing the threats over chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to become a "distraction".

"It's intended to be a distraction from what is really going on and that is a savage attack with conventional means on innocent people in urban centres in Ukraine, absolutely barbaric use of artillery and mortars and rockets as I've described, thermobaric bombs included it now seems, that is what is going on," he said.

Nato leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday for an emergency meeting about the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Speaking to broadcasters after landing in the country, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said allies must "step up" support for Ukraine and warned Putin is determined to "double down" on the invasion.

"Vladimir Putin is plainly determined to double down on his path of violence and aggression, absolutely brutal the way he's treating the Ukrainian people," said Mr Johnson.

Read more: Row as Nicola Sturgeon accused of linking independence to Ukraine war

Read more: 'Putin will end up in the dock of a court' for Ukraine war crimes, vows Dominic Raab

"We've got to step up, we've got to increase our support, we've got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today as we are.

"Looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves."

The UK announced it was sanctioning more Russian individuals on Thursday, leading to the Kremlin branding Mr Johnson "anti-Russian".

The Prime Minister addressed the accusation in a press conference on Thursday afternoon, saying there was not "a single person around the table" in Nato or the G7 who "is against Russia or the Russian people".

Read more: Putin 'risks rebellion' from his security service which is 'furious' over Ukraine invasion

Read more: UK at 'risk' of 'tiptoeing into proxy war with Russia', warns former top security adviser

"I think I'm probably the only Prime Minister in UK history to be called Boris, I think I have that distinction, and I'm not remotely anti-Russian," he said.

"But I think what we all agree is that what Vladimir Putin is doing, the way he's leading Russia at the moment, is utterly catastrophic, that his invasion of Ukraine is inhuman and barbaric.

He added: "You can be sympathetic towards ordinary Russians, who are being so badly led, but you can be deeply hostile to the decisions of Vladimir Putin."