President Joe Biden said the United States and NATO allies would “respond” to Russia if they used chemical weapons.
“We would respond, we would respond if he uses it,” Biden said during a press conference Thursday. “The nature of the responses depend on the nature of the use.”
Biden would not expand on whether the United States has gathered specific intelligence on if Russian President Vladimir Putin is using chemical weapons.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said Russian military forces committed war crimes in Ukraine after hitting civilian targets.
When asked whether there could be a military response if Putin uses chemical weapons, Biden said that NATO would decide as a whole if they would cross that line.
Biden vigorously defended his administration’s use of sanctions on Russia, arguing the financial penalties were never meant to deter Putin from invading Ukraine but are designed to provide sustained pain.
“Sanctions never deter,” Biden said when pressed why U.S. sanctions have not stopped Putin’s course in Ukraine. “You keep talking about that.”
Biden said it’s the “maintenance of sanctions” and “increasing the pain” over the next year that will stop Russia.
“We have to demonstrate the purpose,” Biden said. “The single most important thing is for us to stay unified and for the world to continue to focus on what a brut this guy is.”
Biden noted that Putin was banking on NATO being split when he invaded Ukraine. Instead, “NATO has never, never been more united than it’s been today,” Biden declared Thursday after an emergency meeting of the allies in Brussels.
But Putin can take anything for another month, including the harsh sanctions, so the alliance must not crack, Biden added.