Syria is shadowing Biden in retaliation for a possible Ukrainian chemical attack

Investigations into Russia’s use of chemical weapons in Ukraine have drawn renewed attention to how the White House has sought to set up “red lines” if Moscow further violates international norms in its attack on Ukrainians.

President Biden, along with senior executives, have been warning for weeks that Russian President Vladimir Putin could carry out a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine.

Comparing the situation with Putin’s catastrophe in Syria, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians, experts say the Russian president may feel brave enough to use such tactics in Ukraine if he believes that harsh punishments will not be repeated.

On Monday, Ukrainian troops in Mariupol reported that Russian drones had taken off and fired some sort of harmful smoke, causing respiratory problems, raising fears of a chemical weapons attack.

But U.S. officials said Tuesday they had no investigators, so could not confirm reports of potential chemical weapons being used in the southern, coastal city, the site of serious attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in recent weeks. .

“We are not in a position to confirm anything. I do not think the Ukrainians are like that,” Foreign Secretary Anthony Blingen told reporters on Tuesday.

But he added that the United States had shared “credible” information with Ukraine and other allies that Russia could mix up with chemical agents such as riot control agents such as tear gas and establish it as part of its siege on Mariupol.

“This is a real concern – a concern we had before the occupation began. I pointed out the possibility of using these types of weapons, and this is something we are very focused on,” Blingen said.

Biden and his senior officials have warned that Putin’s carrying out such an attack would provoke “severe costs,” but particularly avoided drawing red lines, a phrase that evokes memories of criticism against former President Obama for failing to implement military sanctions. In 2012, he threatened to use chemical weapons in Syria.

“We do not like red lines here, so I’m not going to use that phrase,” said Jen Sockie, a White House spokeswoman who served in the Obama administration.

Biden made the point at a NATO press conference last month, promising that the United States and the military alliance would respond – but said there were no details on how Putin would use chemical weapons, adding: “The nature of the response depends on the nature of the application.”

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement on Tuesday that it was concerned about “unconfirmed reports of chemical weapons” and was closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine and was ready to assist in the investigation.

Although management has been reluctant to use the term “red line”, Mark Kansian, senior adviser on the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the use of chemical weapons was a “dramatic increase” and a violation. “Long-standing international red line in the use of force and weapons.”

This is in addition to other atrocities that the United States and its allies claim are responsible for what Putin and Russian forces have committed, including war crimes such as targeted civilian killings, torture, kidnapping and rape.

But Cancian said response options have been limited over the past six weeks due to sanctions already in place.

“The problem is, they still can’t do a lot,” he said. “They have all been given permission. In fact there is less use of troops in any one way, they can not do much more. So this will put the United States in a very difficult situation.

“It is the duty of the Ukrainians to respond in a way that we can help,” William Taylor, a former ambassador to Ukraine and co-chair of the Russia-Europe program at the US Peace Institute, told The Hill.

“We have to provide every intelligence we have about the military – there is one [Russian] The Chemical Weapons Division is apparently preparing in Mariupol – if it has not already used these weapons, it should be targeted.

The main group of national security officials focusing on Ukraine in the White House, the Tiger group, is said to have given priority to drawing up possible responses from the United States and its allies if Russian chemical weapons attacks are confirmed.

Biden is said to have brought the footage to a meeting with European leaders and NATO allies during his visit to Brussels last month.

The administration is on top to provide security equipment to Ukraine against chemical weapons. The World Health Organization also said it had issued guidelines in the event of a chemical attack on 1,500 health workers in Ukraine.

Taylor is right in being ambiguous about what management views as a red line, allowing for greater flexibility in potential reactions and avoiding escalation between nuclear powers.

However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Obama’s attempt to use chemical weapons against President Bashar al – Assad’s regime in Syria. There.

“One of the lessons Putin and Assad have learned from Syria is that I fear the use of chemical weapons,” he said.

“Despite Biden’s warnings, Putin is calculating that he can do this, that it will help him win the war, and that the West will not intervene significantly.”

Obama has backed down from launching military operations in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in the face of opposition from international allies and Congress.

Although the former Trump administration has carried out at least two military strikes against Syria, Assad and Putin have largely escaped responsibility for the brutal attacks that killed thousands of people and left dead children one on top of the other.

“The horror of chemical weapons was very clear in Syria… that witness is now very clear about what is happening in Mariupol,” Taylor said. “We know the terrible consequences there, and it raises awareness, raises anger, raises the prospect of Russia falling.”

But Taylor said the Biden administration may have estimated that a U.S. military strike would greatly increase the risk of a major confrontation with Russia.

Chronick, who served at the Pentagon during the Republican and Democratic administration, acknowledged that the current White House was “clear that the United States was not militarily involved.” The attack can be carried out without risk of a large increase.

“I do not think Putin wants a major war with the United States,” he said, warning against allowing impunity in the use of chemical weapons.

“Ideally, it did not work, it did not help Putin and, basically, we want to teach the lesson that it is not a good idea to use these weapons in the future. You will fail, you will be punished for that, that is not the key to success,” he said.

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