WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden departed for Brussels today for emergency talks with European leaders about the war in Ukraine, carrying with him plans for more sanctions that sources said include members of the Russian parliament.
Biden’s trip includes talks in Brussels with Nato and European leaders and a visit to Warsaw for consultations with Polish president Andrzej Duda.
Western leaders have grown increasingly concerned that Russian president Vladimir Putin will use chemical weapons or otherwise escalate tactics four weeks into an invasion where his troops have failed to capture a single major Ukrainian city.
Leaving the White House today, Biden said Russia’s use of chemical weapons in Ukraine is a risk.
“I think it’s a real threat,” he said.
Biden and his team have been developing plans to impose sanctions on members of the Duma, Russia’s parliament, in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
The sanctions are expected to be announced tomorrow.
A White House spokesman said “no final decisions have been made about who we will sanction and how many we will sanction”.
“We will have additional sanctions measures to announce that will rolled out in conjunction with our allies on Thursday when the president has the opportunity to speak with them,” the official said.
Tomorrow, Biden will attend an emergency Nato summit, meet with G7 leaders and address the 27 leaders of the European Union at a session of the European Council, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters yesterday.
He said Biden will coordinate on the next phase of military assistance to Ukraine.
In addition to imposing fresh sanctions on Russia, Biden will work with US allies to tighten existing sanctions to “crack down on evasion and to ensure robust enforcement”, Sullivan said.
In recent days, Russia and western governments have traded accusations over the possibility of a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine without producing evidence to back their concerns.
Biden has vowed not to engage in direct conflict with Russia but has pledged the US will defend all Nato territory.
He has ordered more US troops to Nato’s eastern flank to reassure edgy allies.
During his visit to Poland, a Nato member, Biden will visit US troops and meet with experts involved in the humanitarian response to helping hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who have fled their country and those who remain.