Sullivan answered reporters’ questions on a number of topics.
Concern about Russia’s possible use of chemical weapons was an “important topic of discussion” during Biden’s visit to Europe. Biden vows to respond “in kind” if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Pressed about what that means, because chemical weapons are illegal under international law, Biden has said repeatedly that the United States will not send troops to fight Russia In Ukraine, Sullivan said it is an issue that is being discussed and prepared at the military and diplomatic levels as well as among Allied leaders.
“We are working through contingency planning for a range of different scenarios,” he said. “It is difficult to impart accuracy to these kinds of assumptions given of course the form of use, the location of the use and the context of use, all of which have an impact on the specificity of the response. But in general terms, I think there is a convergence on the fundamental nature of how the Alliance will respond to these issues.”
He also told reporters that the United States did not believe that China had agreed to Russia’s request for military assistance.
“We haven’t seen the Chinese move forward in providing military equipment to Russia, but it’s something we continue to watch every day,” he said.
Asked if the president expected to discuss a Polish proposal to send international peacekeepers to Ukraine, Sullivan said he was not sure whether the Polish president would raise this with Biden during their meeting, and said the United States needed more information before responding.
He also said there was no “update” on Ukraine’s request for more warplanes, after the United States rejected a proposal by Poland Transfer of Russian-made MiG fighter jets from a US base in Germany to Ukraine, fearing an escalation of the conflict with Russia.
Asked what Biden thought of his trip to EuropeSullivan emphasized a point Biden made in his remarks Thursday that unity will require action over time.
“Part of the reason he decided we needed to do this was because the first weeks of loneliness can progress through momentum, inertia, and adrenaline,” Sullivan said. “But This can go on for quite some time, and to maintain that unity as costs rise, as the tragedy unfolds, that’s hard work. And the president wanted everyone to get together to say, “We’ve got to do this work.” …it takes the presence of an American president to try to move this forward.”
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