Biden: We'll "respond" if Putin uses chemical weapons

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

Multiple intelligence sources continue to suggest that Vladimir Putin is preparing to use chemical weapons in his assault on Ukraine, crossing a red line that almost all civilized nations have declared to be out of bounds. If these reports are accurate, Putin will likely attempt to claim that it was the Ukrainians themselves who launched the weapons, using that as an excuse to further escalate the bloodshed. The fact that nobody outside of Russia would believe such a concocted fabrication likely won’t slow Putin down as Mad Vlad continues to act in an unbalanced manner. But if he does cross that line, what will the west do about it? That question was put to Joe Biden yesterday and he forcefully insisted that the United States would “respond” were that to happen. But he’s not saying what form our response would take, insisting that the response would depend on the nature of the attack. (Daily Wire)

President Joe Biden said the United States “would respond” if Russia deployed chemical weapons in Ukraine, though he declined to explain what that response could include.

Biden was asked Thursday if the United States and NATO would respond militarily if Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine. Biden promised a response, but hedged on whether the response would include the U.S. military or other NATO forces.

“We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use,” Biden said.

One administration official confirmed that Biden has set up a “tiger team” that is looking at potential responses if Russia does deploy chemical weapons. They’re also gaming out scenarios should Putin use biological or even nuclear weapons. And for the first time, they have confirmed that there are some scenarios that might trigger a military response directly against Russia from the United States and NATO. If a single nuke is detonated, according to the source, “all bets are off.”

It just feels like there’s a serious discontinuity in the United States’ position here. So it’s okay to slaughter Ukrainian civilians using conventional bullets, missiles, and bombs, but if you do it using Chlorine, phosgene, or mustard gas, that’s a bridge too far? To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with sending a message like this to Putin, though it probably should have been done from the beginning. Currently, the Moscow Madman has no fear of the west because he’s been repeatedly assured that he won’t be attacked as long as he confines the war to Ukraine. A significant threat of a coordinated military response from NATO is likely the only thing he would respect.

But let’s just say that he goes ahead and deploys some chemical weapons. What sort of “response” is left if it’s not a military response? More sanctions? Putin is still ignoring them. A strongly worded letter? We’re running out of options other than launching a strike against some of Russia’s military assets in and around Ukraine.

But if you launch a strike on one Russian tank or armored personnel carrier, we are officially at war with Russia. Was that always how this story was going to end? The only reason we’re not already at war with North Korea is that Kim Jong-un, for all of his bluster and provocations, is still sane enough to realize that the moment he unleashes one of his WMDs on another nation his entire country will be obliterated, likely in a matter of days. I’m no longer positive that Vladimir Putin retains that level of sanity and the ability to calculate the odds.

We continue to hear stories of officials inside of Putin’s administration walking away from their jobs and publicly refusing to support the invasion. But that’s not going to be enough. If we reach the point where Putin orders the use of WMDs, then he’s going to have to be removed from office whether his own people do it or we do. The former would be far preferable, but there still may come a point where we’ll have to take care of the job ourselves, or else we need to be prepared for nuclear war. And even at my age, I honestly can’t believe I’ve reached the point where I would have to say those words aloud.