NATO says concerned Russia may be preparing pretext for chemical attack

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on as he holds a news conference following a NATO summit, in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

BRUSSELS, March 24 (Reuters) - Russia may be trying to create a pretext for the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by accusing the United States and its allies of preparing such an attack, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

"We are concerned partly because we see the rhetoric and we see that Russia is trying to create some kind of pretext accusing Ukraine, the United States and NATO allies of preparing to use chemical and biological weapons," he told reporters after a NATO summit in Brussels, adding any use of chemical weapons would have widespread consequences.

"There is also a risk that it (a chemical weapons attack) will have a direct effect on people living in NATO countries because we can see contamination, we can see the spread of chemical agents or biological weapons into our countries," Stoltenberg said.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Marine Strauss Editing by Ingrid Melander

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