Using chemical weapons would have “far-reaching consequences”, warns NATO chiefReading Time: 2 minutes
Russian forces using chemical weapons in Ukraine would not only be a violation of international law, but have “far-reaching consequences”, warned NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the defence alliance’s headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, writes Al Jazeera. He also said Moscow could not “win a nuclear war”, according to the BBC, and called for the Kremlin to cease its nuclear threats.
Ahead of NATO’s summit on Thursday, Stoltenberg said allies would discuss giving more support to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against chemical, biological and nuclear threats, among others. The BBC reports that NATO is also expected to boost defences on its eastern flank, deploying battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned NATO against sending peacekeepers to Ukraine (as proposed by Poland), because it could turn into a direct confrontation between Russia and the transatlantic military alliance, writes Al Jazeera. Lavrov said, “This will be the direct clash between the Russian and NATO armed forces that everyone has not only tried to avoid but said should not take place in principle.”
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that Kyiv described its online peace negotiations with Moscow as “difficult” after having conducted several rounds without agreement. Ukraine’s lead negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, said the Ukrainian side has “clear and principled positions”, while Russia’s demands include Ukraine’s disarmament and recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, as well as Kyiv’s pledge to forgo NATO membership.
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that 100,000 people were still trapped without water, food and medicine in Mariupol, which continued to face incessant bombardment. About 7,000 people did manage to escape the city on Tuesday, Zelensky said, but they were attacked in agreed humanitarian corridors; he added that Russian forces had captured emergency workers and bus drivers who were part of one humanitarian convoy.
Kyiv and Moscow did strike a deal to set up nine humanitarian corridors to evacuate those trapped in Ukrainian cities on Wednesday. On Facebook, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said routes would be opened in the regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv and Luhansk to transport civilians away from hostile areas, although no agreement was reached to establish a safe corridor out of battered Mariupol.