National security advisor: Russia claiming that US, Ukraine are using chemical weapons is 'a tell' that Russia could be 'preparing to do so'
- The US is paying close attention to the potential of Russia using chemical weapons in Ukraine.
- Russia falsely accused the US and Ukraine of using chemical weapons, the national security adviser said.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday called Russia claiming that both the United States and Ukraine are employing chemical weapons "a tell."
"It is a very legitimate concern, fear that Russia would use chemical weapons in Ukraine," Sullivan said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday when asked about the possibility of Russia using chemical weapons in Ukraine.
"They're right now accusing the United States and Ukrainians of potentially using chemical and biological weapons which is a tell. It's a tell that they themselves may be preparing to do so, and then trying to pin the blame on someone else," Sullivan added.
—CNN (@CNN) March 13, 2022
"That's a classic page out of the Russian playbook," he said.
Threats and concerns of chemical and nuclear warfare have escalated since the war started in late February.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this week characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin's threat to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine-Russia conflict as "a bluff."
"It's one thing to be a murderer. It's another to commit suicide," Zelenskyy said.
Days into the invasion, Putin placed Russia's nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, a move that attracted the NATO's attention. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the order is "dangerous rhetoric."
Sullivan on Sunday said Russia "would pay a severe price" if it were to use chemical weapons in Ukraine. He said the US is communicating with its NATO allies and partners "to reinforce that message."
"We're watching this extremely closely. The escalation risk with a nuclear power is severe," he said. "The American president, Joe Biden, has to take that responsibility extremely seriously, even as we redouble our efforts to support the Ukrainians."
"Anytime you have a nuclear power fighting in a conflict zone in Europe near NATO territory, of course we have to focus on and be concerned about the possibility of escalation, the risk of escalation," he said.
"But," he added, "we have not seen anything that would require us to change our nuclear posture at this time."
On CBS's "Face the Nation," Sullivan said Putin is "resorting" to potentially using chemical weapons because "he's frustrated because his forces aren't advancing."
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