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Biden pledges new Ukraine help, warns Russia on chem weapons | Nation and World



BRUSSELS — President Joe Biden and Western allies pledged new sanctions and humanitarian help on Thursday in response to Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, however their presents fell in need of the extra sturdy army help that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for in a pair of live-video appearances.

Biden additionally introduced the U.S. would welcome as much as 100,000 Ukrainian refugees – although he mentioned many in all probability favor to remain nearer to house – and supply a further $1 billion in meals, medication, water and different provides.

The Western leaders spent Thursday crafting subsequent steps to counter Russia’s month-old invasion – and huddling over how they could reply ought to Putin deploy chemical, organic or perhaps a nuclear weapon. They met in a trio of emergency summits that had them shuttling throughout Brussels for back-to-back-to-back conferences of NATO, the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the 27-member European Council.

Biden, in an early night information convention after the conferences, warned {that a} chemical assault by Russia “would set off a response in form.”

“You’re asking whether NATO would cross. We’d make that decision at the time,” Biden said.

However, a White House official said later that did not imply any shift in the U.S. position against direct military action in Ukraine. Biden and NATO allies have stressed that the U.S. and NATO would not put troops on the ground in Ukraine.

The official was not authorized to comment publicly by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Zelenskyy, while thankful for the newly promised help, made clear to the Western allies he needed far more than they’re currently willing to give.

“One percent of all your planes, one percent of all your tanks,” Zelenskyy asked members of the NATO alliance. “We can’t just buy those. When we will have all this, it will give us, just like you, 100% security.”

Biden said more aid was on its way. But the Western leaders were treading carefully so as not to further escalate the conflict beyond the borders of Ukraine.

“NATO has made a choice to support Ukraine in this war without going to war with Russia,” mentioned French President Emmanuel Macron. “Therefore we have decided to intensify our ongoing work to prevent any escalation and to get organized in case there is an escalation.”

Poland and other eastern flank NATO countries are seeking clarity on how the U.S. and European nations can assist in dealing with their growing concerns about Russian aggression as well as the refugee crisis. More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine in recent weeks, including more than 2 million to Poland.

Biden is to visit Poland on Friday, where energy and refugee issues are expected to be at the center of talks with President Andrzej Duda.

Billions of dollars of military hardware have already been provided to Ukraine. A U.S. official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Western nations were discussing the possibility of providing anti-ship weapons amid concerns that Russia will launch amphibious assaults along the Black Sea coast.

Biden said his top priority at Thursday’s meetings was to make certain that the West stayed on the same page in its response to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“The single most vital factor is for us to remain unified,” he said.

Finland announced Thursday it would send more military equipment to Ukraine, its second shipment in about three weeks. And Belgium announced it will add one billion euros to its defense budget in response to Russia’s invasion..

At the same time, Washington will expand its sanctions on Russia, targeting members of the country’s parliament along with defense contractors. The U.S. said it will also work with other Western nations to ensure gold reserves held by Russia’s central bank are subject to existing sanctions.

With Russia facing increasing international isolation, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also warned China against coming to Moscow’s rescue. He called on Beijing “to join the rest of the world and clearly condemn the brutal war against Ukraine and not support Russia.”

But Stoltenberg, too, made clear that the West had a “accountability to stop this battle from turning into a full-fledged warfare in Europe.”

The chance that Russia will use chemical and even nuclear weapons has been a grim matter of dialog in Brussels.

Stoltenberg mentioned that NATO leaders agreed Thursday to ship gear to Ukraine to assist defend it towards a chemical weapons assault.

White House officers mentioned that each the U.S. and NATO have been engaged on contingency planning ought to Russia deploy nonconventional weaponry. NATO has specifically educated and geared up forces if there needs to be such an assault towards a member nation’s inhabitants, territory or forces. Ukraine just isn’t a member.

Stoltenberg mentioned in an NBC News interview that if Russia deployed chemical weapons, that will make “an unpredictable, dangerous situation even more dangerous and even more unpredictable.” He declined to remark about how the alliance would possibly reply.

The White House National Security Council launched efforts days after the invasion by way of its “Tiger Team,” which is tasked with planning three months out, and a second technique group engaged on a long term overview of any geopolitical shift which will come, in accordance with a senior administration official. The official was not licensed to remark publicly and spoke on the situation of anonymity.

Both groups are conducting contingency planning for eventualities together with Russia’s potential use of chemical or organic weapons, focusing on of U.S. safety convoys within the area, disruptions to world meals provide chains and the rising refugee disaster.

Biden earlier than departing for Europe on Wednesday mentioned that the opportunity of a chemical assault was a “real threat.” In addition, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov advised CNN this week that Russia may think about using its nuclear weapons if it felt there have been “an existential threat for our country.”

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday warned, “Russia is capable of anything.”

“They don’t respect any rules,” Marin told reporters. “They don’t respect any international laws that they are actually committed to.”

The Russian invasion has spurred European nations to reconsider their military spending, and Stoltenberg opened the NATO summit by saying the alliance must “respond to a new security reality in Europe.”

The bolstering of forces along NATO’s eastern flank will put pressure on national budgets.

The energy crisis exacerbated by the war is a particularly hot topic for the European Council summit, where leaders from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece are hoping for an urgent, coordinated bloc-wide response. EU officials have said they will seek U.S. help on a plan to top up natural gas storage facilities for next winter, and they also want the bloc to jointly purchase gas.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dismissed calls to boycott Russian energy supplies, saying it would cause significant damage to his country’s economy. Scholz is facing pressure from environmental activists to quickly wean Germany off Russian energy, but he said the process will have to be gradual.

“To do so from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and all of Europe into recession,” Scholz mentioned Wednesday.

Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union’s government arm, mentioned earlier than Biden’s go to that she needed to debate the opportunity of securing additional deliveries of liquefied pure fuel from the United States for the 27-nation bloc “for the subsequent two winters.”

The EU imports 90% of the pure fuel used to generate electrical energy, warmth houses and provide trade, with Russia supplying nearly 40% of EU fuel and 1 / 4 of its oil. The bloc is hoping to cut back its dependence on Russian fuel by diversifying suppliers.

The U.S. is searching for methods to “surge” LNG provides to Europe to assist, mentioned Jake Sullivan, Biden’s nationwide safety adviser.

Four new NATO battlegroups, which often quantity between 1,000-1,500 troops, are being arrange in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

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Madhani reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Hannah Fingerhut, Ellen Knickmeyer and Darlene Superville in Washington, Dasha Litvinova in Lviv, Ukraine, and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.





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