‘Will be his downfall’ Putin warned exploiting chemical weapon loophole would end Russia

Russia: Putin 'may use chemical weapons' says expert

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NATO forces have made preparations for the possibility that Russian forces use chemical weapons against Ukrainian forces, which would likely be judged a war crime. But the former head of the British Army’s Chemical Weapons Unit told Express.co.uk that there was an option for chemical warfare which may allow Russia to circumvent the harshest reactions from Western leaders.

Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon explained: “If the Russians used something like chlorine, which is a toxic industrial chemical – not a chemical warfare agent, but was very successful in Syria – I think it would be very difficult for the West to act decisively.”

Chlorine is a grey area for chemical weapons; it is not strictly a chemical weapon, but an industrial chemical that can be harmful to the human body, as Colonel de Bretton-Gordon identified.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says chlorine is “not a very efficient chemical weapon” as it is often easily detected before causing catastrophic harm, but, nevertheless, chlorine gas is banned as a weapon.

But even the deployment of a weapon like chlorine would likely “just enrage” the international community, the former commander of Nato’s chemical weapons force said.

He told Express.co.uk: “I think we’re making it very clear that would certainly ratchet things up.”

In an ominous warning to Putin, Colonel de Bretton-Gordon said the Russian president’s “position is getting increasingly tenuous”, and that “if he escalates to chemical weapons, that will be his downfall”.

He predicted: “If chemical weapons are used, there will be more sanctions.

“There will be more restrictions, and we will give the Ukraine military more ammunition and weapons – more sophisticated weapons.”

Nearly 200 countries are signatories to an international treaty that banned the manufacture, stockpiling and deployment of chemical weapons – including Russia.

The Kremlin has denied having, or utilising, these weapons.

But Moscow accused Ukraine of gearing up to use chemicals, and although they did not provide any evidence to support this, Mr Biden said this allegation was a “clear sign” Putin was considering using them himself.

The US leader said last month: [Putin’s] back is against the wall and now he’s talking about new false flags he’s setting up including, asserting that we in America have biological as well as chemical weapons in Europe – simply not true. I guarantee you.”

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He added: “They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine.

“That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those.

“He’s already used chemical weapons in the past, and we should be careful of what’s about to come.”

The White House confirmed last week that the US will provide Ukraine will equipment and supplies to combat the effects of chemical and biological weapons.

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of gearing up to use chemical weapons, without providing evidence of plans to do so.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “In an effort to assist our Ukrainian partners, the US government is providing the government of Ukraine lifesaving equipment and supplies that could be deployed in the event of Russian use of a chemical or biological weapon.”

US President Joe Biden had previously made comments about how the US would respond if Vladimir Putin chose to unleash chemical weapons in Ukraine.

He said: “We would respond if he uses it.

“The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”

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