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Biden brings more troops and sanctions to NATO amid rising fears of Russian chemical warfare


U.S. president Joe Biden is listening during a plenary at the NATO summit in Brussels (Belgium), June 14, 2021.

Reuters| Reuters

WASHINGTON —  President Joe Biden landed in Brussels on Wednesday for urgent meetings this week with members of NATO, the G-7 and the European Union as the continent reels from Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine that’s shattered 70 years of relative peace and security in the region. 

As the Kremlin wages its medieval siege war inside Ukraine, just outside the border, more than 35 countries have come together to help tip the scales in favor of Kyiv — the largest voluntary coalition in the history of modern warfare. There are many things that are flooding into Ukraine to have an impact on the situation: helicopters, Humvees (missiles), ammunition, weapons and body armor as well intelligence reports, funds, food, medical aid, and money.

On Thursday, the leaders of the most powerful military alliance in the world will gather at Brussels for “extraordinary Summit” to decide troops, sanctions and other measures to support war-torn Ukraine.

Next phase

According to experts, three major threats will be looming large at the summit. This would require the alliance’s response. 

NATO leaders will also announce additional humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, especially Mariupol (embarrassed port city), and a new round of sanctions to increase pressure on Moscow’s oil sector.

As the war nears its second month and Russia’s battle deaths soar past 7,000 with almost nothing to show for them, experts say it’s becoming inevitable that Moscow will try new ways to hit back at Kyiv and its backers — both within Ukraine and beyond its frontiers.

Security experts in Ukraine are worried about the likelihood that Putin might resort to mass destruction weapons as a last resort. The possibility of an even more vicious Russian attack on nuclear reactors in Chornobyl or Zaporizhzhia is also a concern. Last month, soldiers opened fire at the reactor which was apparently offline. 

In this handout photo, March 17, 2022, a view of the interior shows damage to a building located at Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant complex, during Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Energoatom | via Reuters

If Russia had fired on one of the reactors that happened to be online, “that would have caused a nuclear disaster, and we’d basically be looking at trying to evacuate a quarter of Europe — maybe a half of Europe — depending on the wind,” said Scheherazade Rehman, director of the European Union Research Center at George Washington University.

Although international regulators say the plants don’t leak radiation and they are safe, scientists are concerned about the possibility of renewed fighting.

Weapons of mass destruction

Frustrated with his slow progressPutin is increasingly vocal in Ukraine about the potential use of chemical or biological weapons against entire cities to force them to submit to his will.

Biden stated Monday that Putin falsely accused Ukraine or the U.S. of chemical or biological weapon use to justify Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.

They also suggest that Ukraine may have chemical and biological weapons. This is a strong indication that he may use both,” Biden stated, but did not provide any proof.

There is no evidence that Russia has used chemical weapons, but it does exist, said Dan Baer from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who was acting director for the Europe program.

Russia is a country with a track record of accusing people of things that they have done or are planning to do. That’s the projection we’ve witnessed in the past couple weeks. He said it was very frightening in an interview on Tuesday. 

Russian soldiers don chemical protection suits when they are standing near a military fueler, a base for a prime-mover of Russian Topol intercontinental balistic missile. The training session was held at Serpukhov’s Military Missile Forces Research Institute 100 km outside Moscow. T

AFP and Getty Images| AFP | Getty Images

Russia previously used chemical weaponry on the battlefield in Syria. The immediate threat of an attack by Russia against Ukraine is far greater than if any other country was attacking Kyiv.

Steven Durlauf of University of Chicago was a sociologe and expert in macroeconomics. He said, “Russia crosses the threshold to use chemical weapons for an attack” 

He said that Russia’s use a chemical weapon would probably overcome the resistance of the American and European people to support greater participation in the Ukraine war. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke Wednesday using chemical weapons would change the natureThe conflict in Ukraine continues.

Stoltenberg, who spoke in Brussels, stated that “it will be a flagrant violation of international laws and have far-reaching consequences”. He added that using such weapons could also impact neighboring NATO member states.

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Cyber attacks

In the last week, the threat of cyber attacks against the United States has grown so much that the White House has taken immediate action to put potential Russian targets on high alert. 

According to officials from the Biden administration, there is a concern that Russia will launch an attack against America’s critical infrastructure. This could be either against an energy provider or utility provider.

It is certain the United States will impose severe costs upon Russia in cyber attacks against infrastructure Americans rely on. However, the NATO alliance wouldn’t respond the exact same way to any Russian cyber attack against an American target that wasn’t military. 

Displaying the Russian flag on a laptop display with overlay of binary code codes

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NATO’s founding charter states that a cyberattack against one ally will be considered an attack against all its allies. The charter’s fifth article enshrines the commitment that NATO members collectively will defend any NATO member. This is commonly known as “Article 5”.

Rehman of George Washington University said that the most crucial item NATO should decide on cyber is “where is the line that triggers Article 5 responses, which is all very fuzzy right now.” Who needs to be hurt? We need to hear, “Okay it’s over,” how bad? 

Estonia and smaller countries, for example, may struggle to persuade members to apply Article 5. Rehman made the subtle reference to the Russian cyberattack that took place in 2007 against Estonia. This attack lasted several months, leading to a violent riot.

“But, when Americans shout Article Five’, no one asks that. This is true for any larger economy like Germany and France. Rehman said that if they call it “Article Five”, then it crosses the line. Now, we need to realize that there’s a third issue.

This is the’mistake.

Also, there is a possibility that Russian soldiers might accidentally fire across the border into NATO member states. Poland has been identified as the likely landing point. 

NATO’s number one priority should be “How to handle a misstep?” Rehman, George Washington University.

Rehman said Tuesday that the Russian army was young and inexperienced. He spoke to CNBC about his experience in an interview.

As an American Army MIM-104 Patriot anti-missile missile defence launcher, a U.S. Army MIM-104 Patriot stands east of Rzeszow jasionska airport. This airport is currently used by the 82nd Airborne Division in the U.S. Army.

Getty Images| Getty Images

“And now they have [Russian mercenaries]From Mali and Libya there, who don’t know who the Russians and who the Ukrainians and so end up fighting anyone,” she said. A top U.S. commander in Africa recently saidThe Kremlin recruits paid soldiers who have fought in African conflict to fight for Ukraine. 

Rehman stated, “All it needs to be is one shot across a border.” 

American troops are increasing

Biden is expected to visit Brussels with NATO allies this week to increase the number of troops deployed to Ukraine. They also plan to talk about whether they will keep them there semi-permanently. 

According to the Defense Department, there are currently around 100,000 American troops in Europe. More than 38,000 are stationed in Germany. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced Biden to move several thousand American troops to NATO’s eastern flank. 

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 82nd Airborne are carrying military equipment during an exercise at Arlamow Airbase on, 2022, Wola Korzeniecka (Poland).

Omar Marques | Getty Images

Stoltenberg stated that NATO leaders would discuss the addition of four more tactical battalions from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania to boost the strength of the Eastern flank in Ukraine, stretching across the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. 

Stoltenberg is a long-standing advocate of more NATO troops in the NATO eastern flank. He made this sound like an easy deal on Wednesday. saying he expected leaders to agree toNATO must “enhance their position across all domains” with major improvements in its eastern region on land, at sea, and in air.

It is unlikely that any announcements regarding an increase in American troop presence within Eastern Europe will be received warmly in Brussels this Week, though not for what one would expect.

Durlauf stated that Biden’s decision to send additional troops (even 10,000) isn’t because they will defend their country from Russian attacks. This means that so many Americans could be killed by an attack on their homelands that the U.S. cannot step aside.

Durlauf pointed out that even though the troops under consideration would not be enough to defeat the Russian army, they are sufficient. However, they make it difficult for the United States to not fully intervene. 

He said that in this sense the U.S. was giving the Baltics ultimate establishment credibility by sending her sons to them.

Humanitarian assistance

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine on March 23, 2022 and subsequent military intervention, refugees form Ukraine wait in line at the Medyka border crossing to receive further transportation.

Angelos Tzortzinis | AFP | Getty Images

Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Advisor said Tuesday that Biden would announce additional American aid to a coordinated humanitarian response in order to alleviate the suffering of civilians within Ukraine and respond to the increasing flow of refugees. 

The White House refused to disclose the amount of these contributions. But NBC News reported late TuesdayBiden will unveil new plans for vulnerable Ukrainians to be granted expedited entry into the United States. 

NATO assistance to Mariupol

Since the start of the war, the besieged city on Ukraine’s eastern edge has emerged as a symbol to the world of just how much suffering  Putin is willing to inflict upon civilians — and the stoic bravery of average Ukrainians. 

On Wednesday, there were still 100,000 people trapped in the city, without access to food, water, heat or other medical supplies. This was despite constant Russian bombardment. 

An elderly local man walks by a pro-Russian tank during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in Mariupol (Ukraine), March 18-2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Energy embargo – broader

This week, there are increasing signs that Europe and America are ready to move further than ever towards an embargo against Russian oil and gasoline. However, Wednesday was not clear what announcements would be made while Biden is visiting Brussels. 

Durlauf of University of Chicago said that while the West is the most critical in terms of sanctions, it is also one of the most difficult. He stated that Russia must be cut off from all energy and oil imports.

Russian Rouble banknote with a model of natural gas pipeline and flag. Illustration taken March 23, 2022.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

In March of this year, the United States banned Russian imports. This decision was made easier because America is an oil producer. The same can be said of few European nations.

The EU’s foreign ministers were at a deadlock over an oil embargo that would have applied to all Russian oil. Germany is reported as leading the group of reluctant countries. 

Russian elites are subject to new sanctions 

Biden also meets in Brussels today with EU leaders and G-7 members, who plan to announce additional sanctions against Russian elites. 

“The sanctions have been extraordinarily rapid and extraordinarily powerful, but the next steps have to be taken to continue to put pressure on Russia — be it the elites, be it the regime itself or be it the population,” said Durlauf.

The private luxury yacht Eclipse of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich anchors in Marmaris District of Mugla, Turkey, on March 22, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal reports that the alliances will announce a new package of individual sanctions for around 400 individuals. It will also include 300 legislators from Russia’s lower house, Duma and Russian elites.

In an authoritarian regime, like this one, it can be difficult to identify where you exert pressure. Durlauf stated that sanctions placed pressure on the entire polity. This has to continue and be augmented,” Durlauf explained to CNBC.

What is the final game?

Even though Russia has a vast military advantage, American and European experts are not prepared for it. the war will be over any time soon. 

Nearly all military experts agree that Ukraine’s fierce resistance is the greatest factor in slowing Russia’s progress, and not Western aid.

What is the Ukrainian people’s capacity to hold on and resist? Durlauf of Chicago said that there are no limits to this ability.

“What are we witnessing?” he stated. Ukraine was an independent nation for approximately 30 years. But now, national myths about Ukraine are being written.

This story was contributed by Amanda Macias, CNBC.