The lawmaker said the use of chemical weapons would “alter our calculations” for direct involvement in the conflict
FILE PHOTO: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) attends a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, December 13, 2021. © Getty Images / Anna Moneymaker
Republican Representative Liz Cheney has proposed a “red line” for intervention in Ukraine, arguing that the use of chemical weapons should trigger a response from US forces and the NATO alliance.
Speaking with NBC’s Chuck Todd, the Wyoming congresswoman agreed that Washington should lay down a chemical weapons “red line” for Ukraine, despite efforts by the Biden administration to avoid direct involvement in the conflict over concerns it could spark a third world war.
“I think that we in the West, the United States and NATO – we need to stop telling the Russians what we won’t do,” she said. “We need to be very clear that we are considering all options, that the use of chemical weapons is certainly something that would alter our calculations.”
Washington’s United Nations envoy, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also declared that the US would “respond aggressively” to any use of chemical weapons during a recent sit-down with CNN, though stopped short of threatening armed intervention.
Pressed on the issue during a separate NBC interview, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declined to adopt the more hawkish stance, instead warning that Western involvement could escalate the conflict into a larger and deadlier war.
While Stoltenberg argued that “any use of chemical weapons would be a blatant and brutal violation of international law,” he added: “we need to act in a way that prevents this conflict” from becoming “a full fledged war between NATO and Russia in Europe, and also potentially involving, of course, the United States directly.”
Moscow has accused the Ukrainian government of harboring a biological weapons program backed by the Pentagon, charges rejected by both Kiev and US officials. While the Russian military has released a trove of documents purporting to outline the weapons program, Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council that Washington does not support any foreign bioweapon initiatives.
The White House has instead accused Russia of planning a “false flag” attack using chemical or biological weapons, after fielding similar allegations in early February that Moscow would release a “fake video” of a Ukrainian attack in order to justify military action.
The video never materialized, though Russia did send troops into Ukraine late last month on a mission to “denazify” and “demilitarize” the country. Russia demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.