Moscow’s threats wielding its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons sink in. So much so that NATO has activated its defenses against attacks with this type of weapon, as announced by its Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, after the Alliance summit held this Thursday in Brussels, in which the leaders of the 30 Member States, with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, at the head. In addition, the allies directly challenge China in his final statement to refrain “from giving Russia any kind of support in the war and help it avoid sanctions.”
Almost since the invasion of Ukraine began, Vladimir Putin’s regime has been reminding that Russia is a nuclear power and that if they feel that the Russian state is in danger they can resort to these deadly weapons. The United States and NATO have already made it clear in previous days that they take this threat seriously, at least in the war scenario of Ukraine. Hence, in the meeting that the leaders of the Alliance have held at their headquarters in Brussels, they have agreed to send Ukraine material to protect itself from these attacks if the case arises. They will not be weapons but “material for protection, detection, decontamination, health, training…”, as explained by Stoltenberg.
But the Alliance goes further: “General Wolters [comandante supremo de las fuerzas aliadas] has ordered to activate the elements of chemical, radiological and nuclear defenses and the defenses [contra este tipo de armamento] of the forces deployed in the eastern countries of the Alliance”, added Stoltenberg. And allies “have deployed additional chemical, biological and nuclear defenses to bolster our existing and new battalions.”
NATO has agreed this Thursday to deploy four battalions (in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria), in addition to the four deployed in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In total, there are about 40,000 soldiers under the direct command of the Alliance and about 100,000 US soldiers on European soil.
The Alliance fears that Russia will launch a chemical attack in Ukraine using as an excuse the alleged intention of the Government of Volodímir Zelenski to resort to this type of weaponry. Moscow has been spreading the hoax for days that Ukraine has equipped itself, with Western help, with chemical weapons, an accusation that China has also helped spread. Westerners suspect that it is about establishing an alibi before public opinion that would justify the use by the Russian Army of prohibited weapons.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
The Secretary General of the Alliance has warned that if Russia uses these weapons in Ukraine, “contamination” may be seen in NATO countries. He has also recalled that Vladimir Putin’s regime has already resorted to these attacks “on its own territory, against his opponents, in Salisbury.” [en referencia al envenenamiento del exespía ruso Serguei Skripal] and in Syria.
Anti-ship missiles, anti-tank weapons and drones
As in the European Union summit, which is being held this Thursday afternoon also in Brussels, the Ukrainian president has spoken at the NATO summit, who, always according to Stoltenberg’s version, has thanked the help given to his country and has called for more support. Included in that request are tanks and fighter jets, something that has not been sent to Ukraine so far. “We have been honest,” the allied president clarified, “and we have told him that we are not going to enter the war.”
What the Alliance countries are going to send to kyiv are anti-ship missiles, drones and anti-tank weapons to stop the Russian advance towards the Ukrainian capital and relieve the siege on the Black Sea coast. The development of the invasion in Ukraine in its final stages has given prominence to these scenarios. The Ukrainian counterattack would have somewhat loosened the siege that the Russian Army is trying to deploy in the Ukrainian capital. On the other hand, the siege on the port city of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, continues to tighten, with tragic consequences for the civilian population, and, in addition, the harassment of another port city, Odessa, continues.
This Thursday’s meeting concluded with the demand that Putin allow the opening of humanitarian corridors so that civilians can flee “from Mariupol and other besieged cities” and that he show that he takes the peace negotiations seriously by decreeing a halt to the fire. Meanwhile, the allies will continue with the policy maintained until now: “Massive sanctions have been imposed at a high political cost on Russia to end this war. We remain determined to maintain coordinated international pressure on Russia. We will continue to coordinate closely with stakeholders and with other international organizations, including the European Union. Transatlantic coordination remains crucial for an effective response to the current crisis.”
Next, the 30 allied states directly question China, a power that maintains a neutrality leaning towards Russia at this time: “We call on all states, including the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to defend the international order, including the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, to refrain from supporting Russia’s war effort in any way, and to refrain from any action that helps Russia circumvent sanctions. We are concerned about recent public comments by PRC officials and call on China to stop amplifying the Kremlin’s false narratives, particularly about the war and NATO, and to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”
Among the planned plans that the war has changed is also the replacement at the head of the General Secretariat of NATO, which was going to be decided next June. Stoltenberg will continue in the post until September 30, 2023, as approved this Thursday by the leaders of the 30 States of the Alliance. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted allies to extend his mandate. “Stoltenberg has been doing a fantastic job, day after day he has played critical leadership for NATO,” US Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said a day earlier. “He is a valuable asset to the Alliance,” he concluded.
The departure of the Norwegian, after eight years in office, had already been decided and he himself had already been elected as the next governor of the Central Bank of Norway from the end of the year, a position for which a contest was called to which he had been introduced. Stoltenberg is a politician with a long career in the Nordic country, where he has been finance minister and prime minister, before arriving in Brussels to lead the Alliance.
In principle, it was planned that the NATO summit held in Madrid in June would choose the successor from September 30. Names had even begun to be heard, all women’s, because there was a good deal of consensus that it was time for the largest military alliance to have a woman at its head. Among the names that have been heard were those of the former British Prime Minister, Theresa May, the former High Representative for EU Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini or the former German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.