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NATO should step in if Russia uses chemical weapons, Estonia official says

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Estonian soldiers and members of the Estonian Army during training at Central Training Area, Lasna on February 8, 2022.

Paulius Peeckis | Getty Images

TALLINN, Estonia — NATO should get directly involved in the Russia-Ukraine war if Moscow deploys weapons of mass destruction against its neighbor, Estonia’s chief of defense has told CNBC.

NATO has supported Ukraine in the past by sending military equipment and lethal weapons, so Kyiv can defend itself better against Russia’s aggressive onslaught. Fears that it could escalate conflict against Russia and spark a third war, however, have prevented the NATO 30-member alliance from sending troops into the area.

However, NATO could alter its position if there are concerns about the potential use of chemical weapons were later realized.

On Wednesday, Lt. General Martin Herem of Estonia’s defense forces was asked if NATO should intervene because of Russia’s use of weapons of destruction. This term is used broadly to refer to nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

Russia accused Ukraine of having chemical and biological weapon laboratories that were subsidized by the U.S. This accusation has been rebutted by Western and Ukrainian officials. The West thinks that Russia could have created a false narrative in order to use its chemical weapons against Ukraine.

CNBC’s Kusti Salm told CNBC Wednesday, that Russia was “clearly” in the process of preparing for the use of chemical weapons.

They are using their rhetoric to make this clear. They are creating context that this is about to happen,” he said, adding that “it would be naïve from us to think that there is no sort of end goal there.”

“Even this narrative is part of an escalatory ladder. They are raising the temperature. They spread fear by doing this without actually using weapons.

‘False flag operation’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern that Russia might use chemical weapons. He said that the alliance is “concerned” that Moscow may stage a fake flag operation that could include chemical weapons.

Stoltenberg stated that Russia’s false accusations “make us somewhat concerned about their intentions to actually plan to attack the United States.” [use chemical weapons].”

The president of the United States, along with other allies, made clear that chemical weapons use will result in a heavy price. He also stated that he would not speculate as to the NATO response, except that he said that NATO’s primary responsibility was “to ensure that all our allies are protected and defenced.”

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