‘It would trigger a response in kind’: Biden’s dire answer to if chemical weapons were used in Ukraine

President Joe Biden continues to put forth a confusing message when it comes to responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While taking questions from reporters Thursday at NATO  headquarters in Brussels, Biden snapped at CBS News reporter Christina Ruffini when she said “deterrents did not work” to then ask: “What makes you think Vladimir Putin will alter course based on the action you’ve taken today?”

“Let’s get something straight. You remember, if you covered me from the very beginning, I did not say in fact the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter. You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter,” Biden said.

Yet, at the same time, the White House released a statement Thursday announcing new sanctions.

“Today, the United States is sanctioning over 400 individuals and entities comprised of Russian elites, the Duma and more than 300 of its members, and defense companies, aligning and strengthening our sanctions in close coordination and partnership with the EU and G7,” the statement read.

“Today’s actions include: Full blocking sanctions on more than 400 individuals and entities, including the Duma and its members, additional Russian elites, and Russian defense companies that fuel Putin’s war machine,” the release added, going on to name some of those targeted.

What’s more, the administration touted the establishment of an initiative focused on sanctions evasions — you know, the sanctions that Biden said “don’t deter.”

“G7 leaders and the European Union today announced an initiative to share information about and coordinate responses related to evasive measures intended to undercut the effectiveness and impact of our joint sanctions actions,” the White House said. “Together, we will not allow sanctions evasion or backfilling. As part of this effort, we will also engage other governments on adopting sanctions similar to those already imposed by the G7 and other partners.

Even more troubling was a confusing response from Biden on the possibility of Russian forces using chemical weapons.

ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega asked the president if it was a mistake to dismiss the possibility of U.S. military intervention from the beginning.

“You’ve made it very clear in this conflict that you do not want to see World War III,” Vega said. “But is it possible that in expressing that so early that you were too quick to rule out direct military intervention in this war? Could Putin have been emboldened knowing that you are not going to get involved directly in this conflict?”

“No and no,” was Biden’s terse response.

“And to clarify, on chemical weapons, if chemical weapons were used in Ukraine, would that trigger a military response from NATO?” the reporter then asked.

“It would trigger a response in kind. Whether or not you’re asking whether NATO would cross – we’d make that decision at the time,” Biden replied.

In effect, it seemed Biden suggested that NATO would respond by using chemical weapons on Russian forces, which would not only go against the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibition of the use of chemical and biological weapons in war, but also goes against the  Chemical Weapons Convention treaty signed in 1993 by 193 states-parties,

The U.S. is reportedly s in the process of destroying the last of its chemical munitions stockpile and is no longer believed to have an offensive chemical warfare capability.

It seems clear that the White House will be cleaning this up on Friday, and that Biden was likely talking about more penalties like sanctions when he spoke of a “response in kind.”

Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:


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