NATO on alert as alarm raised over Putin plot to launch devastating chemical weapons

Ukraine: Volodymyr Zelensky expresses frustration with Nato

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It comes just days after Ukrainian military intelligence reported Russian cars collecting the bodies of dead Ukrainian soldiers to “fake” evidence. A false flag operation involves making an attack appear to have been perpetrated by another belligerent.

In a press conference today (Tuesday), Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was “concerned Moscow could stage a false flag operation” in Ukraine.

He added that this attack could “possibly” involve chemical weapons – a move feared for its implications on the civilian population.

Last week, Russia itself accused Ukraine of operating chemical and biological weapons laboratories, backed by the US – something both countries flatly denied.

However, a US foreign official noted that Russia had a pattern of blaming the West for the very thing it was perpetrating, raising fears Putin may be planning an attack.

Russian troops have already seized control of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has called for the deadliest pathogens in Ukrainian labs to be destroyed over fears of spills.

On Sunday, Mr Stoltenberg said that any chemical attack would count as a war crime, while Joe Biden said Putin would pay a “severe price” if chemical weapons were used.

Andrzej Duda, President of Poland – a NATO member which sits closest to the conflict – told the BBC that a chemical weapons attack would be a “game changer”.

Ukraine’s intelligence agency previously said it believed Russia may use Chernobyl as the stage for a “terrorist attack”.

On Friday, it said in a statement that according to the latest information, Putin “plans to create a man-made catastrophe, for which the occupiers will try to shift responsibility to Ukraine”.

There has been worldwide concern at the capture of the two nuclear plants, with Chernobyl losing power twice since being captured by Russian forces.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Sunday that staff at Chernobyl had stopped carrying out repair and maintenance work.

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This, according to the Ukrainian regulator, was due to “their physical and psychological fatigue after working non-stop for nearly three weeks”.

Ukrainian intelligence said that to “imitate the involvement of the Ukrainian military” in an accident at Chernobyl, “the occupiers are trying to create fake ‘evidence’ to confirm their version [of events].”

It continued: “In particular, Russian car refrigerators collecting the bodies of dead Ukrainian defenders were spotted near the Antonov airport in Hostomel.

“There is a possibility that they will be presented as killed saboteurs in the Chernobyl zone.”

The intelligence agency warned that Putin was “ready to resort to nuclear blackmail” in response to the West’s support of Ukraine.

NATO has been careful to provide military assistance to Ukraine without directly involving itself in the conflict, which could easily spiral into global war.

The alliance has sent increased forces to the eastern frontier, in countries such as Poland, Estonia and Lithuania.

Many NATO nations, including the UK and US, have sent Ukraine military aid such as anti-tank missiles.

Ukraine has sought to join the military alliance since 2018, but in an attempt at compromise President Volodomyr Zelensky has since relaxed that aim.

Last week, he said Ukraine’s Government would accept separate security guarantees from NATO that fell short of the protections enjoyed under full membership.

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