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NATO chief: Russia may use chemical weapons in Ukraine

The head of NATO has warned that Russia’s false claim of Ukraine storing biological weapons could be used by the Kremlin as a pretext for chemical attacks, which he said would amount to a war crime.

Jens Stoltenberg also shot down the idea of setting up a “no-fly zone” in Ukrainian airspace, despite repeated pleas made by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This comes as Russian military launched a nighttime missile attack against a Ukrainian military base near the Polish border, killing nine people, according to officials in Lviv.

Last Sunday the Russian foreign ministry said in a tweet accusing the US and Ukrainian governments of operating a secret “military-biological program,” a claim that has also been echoed by Beijing. The U.S. has flatly rejected those accusations as “outright lies.”

“Now that these false claims have been made, we must remain vigilant because it is possible that Russia itself could plan operations with chemical weapons under this fabrication of lies,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag, a German newspaper. “That would be a war crime.”

He added that the Kremlin invented “false pretexts in trying to justify what cannot be justified.”

Earlier the U.S. Department of State said the U.S. “does not own or operate any chemical or biological laboratories in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Stoltenberg once again rejected the idea of a no-fly zone because “that would mean that the Russian forces would have to be attacked, and that would risk a direct confrontation and an uncontrollable escalation.”

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