Nato forces train in chemical warfare as Putin plots chemical attack

Ursula von der Leyen says NATO is the ‘strongest alliance’

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Such is the pace of the Russian advance now that experts warned Ukrainian troops would have to seal Kyiv with mines within the next two days. The chemical warfare exercise is being led by France, which currently commands Nato’s Very High Readiness Brigade and has deployed its ­counter-chemical and biological task force to the town of Elverum.

US intelligence has warned of attempts by Russia to create a “false-flag” scenario whereby it blames Ukraine for deploying chemical and biological weapons first. This has already begun, with claims by the Kremlin that the US has secret chemical laboratories in the country.

“We saw in Syria that even limited use of chemical weapons could clear 400 resistance fighters – it takes a long time to do this using conventional weapons,” said Justin Crump, CEO of the Sibylline strategic risk group.

“If Russia does pull the chemical trigger, the attacks will be carried out using medium or long missiles tipped with chemical warheads, such as the SS-20s based in Belarus which have the range to strike Kyiv, or long-range Iskanders.

With Russian artillery and supply trucks now in the town of Ozera, 19 miles north-west of the city, and Berestianka, 10 miles further north-west from Antonov airport, Putin’s forces will soon be in a position to tighten its fist around the city.

Col Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, formerly head of the British Army’s chemical unit, last night warned that Ukrainians should be receiving training on how to survive chemical attacks.

“If the Russians use their Syrian playbook, they will begin with incendiaries like phosphorus or napalm on buildings, which will collapse.

“If you think Grenfell tower was bad, imagine many Grenfell towers. This will force defenders to hide behind and under rubble, and chemical weapons will then be used to flush them out.

“Because they want deniability, they will use chemicals like chlorine and saline, as opposed to things such as Novichok, which only Russia has.”

Col de Bretton-Gordon said he is appealing to the Government to help prepare Ukrainian civilians for chemical strikes.

“We must do more to support civilians in Ukraine to offset the effect of these terrible attacks, and even though civilians won’t have respirators, there still are steps they can take.

“The instinct will be to go underground but they should get as high as possible because the stuff sinks down; they should know where the wind is and run away from it, and, if they get any on their skin, they should wash it off immediately.”

For Nato’s Exercise Cold Response 2022, which began last month, a 35,000-strong wargame will test the Alliance’s northern flank amid concerns of a Russian attack after Ukraine is contained.

Also involved are the Royal Navy’s carrier Prince of Wales, which is packed with helicopters and Royal Marines escorting frigates and destroyers, as well as a Royal Navy nuclear submarine shadowing her for protection.

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