G-7 leaders warn Russia against using chemical weapons in Ukraine | News | DW | 24.03.2022

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G-7 leaders warn Russia against using chemical weapons in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said any false-flag operation by Russia in order to use chemical, nuclear or biological weapons would constitute a war crime.

rime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden look on as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gestures to Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosted the G7 meeting as Berlin currently holds the rotating presidency

In a joint statement released on Thursday, the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations (G-7) warned Russia against using biological, chemical or nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

The leaders met as part of a series of summits in response to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Western alliance has become increasingly concerned that Russia may employ these weapons, potentially in response to a false-flag attack.

"We categorically denounce Russia’s malicious and completely unfounded disinformation campaign against Ukraine, a state in full compliance with international non-proliferation agreements," it said, countering any grounds Russia may invoke to use such weapons.

They also warned Moscow to avoid catastrophe as its invasion endangers nuclear sites in Ukraine. 

Speaking via video-link to the summit in Brussels, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Moscow had already used phosphorus bombs against civilians in Ukraine.

"The threat of full-scale use by Russia of chemical weapons on the territory of Ukraine is real," Zelensky told the summit. 

The G-7 — consisting of Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom — called upon Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine, in line with a recent ruling from the International Court of Justice.

What G-7 leaders said about a potential chemical threat

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose country holds the rotating G-7 presidency, said any false-flag attack would be a war crime.

"Should Russia be preparing a false-flag operation in order to use such (chemical and biological) weapons (in Ukraine), this would be in violation of all rules, agreements and conventions," he told journalists.

"It is our concern not only to point this out but also to warn in the conversations we have: Don't do it," he added.

US President Joe Biden said later that a chemical attack by Russia "would trigger a response in kind," without specifying exactly how severe that response would be. 

Biden said that the most important priority of the meetings was for the West to stay united in its responses.

Investigating war crimes

The leaders said they would hold Russia accountable for any war crimes it commits and called on Russia to allow humanitarian aid into besieged cities, particularly Mariupol.

"We remain appalled by and condemn the devastating attacks on the Ukrainian population and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools," the leaders said. "We welcome the investigations of international mechanisms, including by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. We will work together to support the gathering of evidence of war crimes."

German Chancellor Scholz said the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine is a prerequisite for a solution to the conflict.

He said Germany will use all its economic weight to help end the war.

"Russian troops must withdraw from Ukraine. This is necessary to enable a viable diplomatic solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine," the chancellor stressed.

Watch video 02:32

Ukraine's civilians pay heavy price as Russia's war rages

Attempts to ensure global food security

As the invasion and its associated sanctions imperil global food supply chains, G-7 leaders pledged to combat the threat to food security through all instruments and funding mechanisms and build resilience in the agriculture sector. They pledged to increase contributions to international agencies that combat food insecurity.

They pledged to avoid export bans on food.

Afterwards, Chancellor Scholz said: "Russia's war is having a dramatic impact on global food supplies far beyond Ukraine. And that is why we must do everything now to prevent a famine."

"Europe is shouldering a lot here. But we really need a global effort." He announced that Germany was boosting humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighboring states to more than €370 million euros ($407 million). He said Germany would also offer a further €430 million to fight a potential hunger crisis.

Watch video 02:18

War in Ukraine threatens global food security

Reducing reliance on Russian energy

The leaders pledged to reduce their dependence on Russian energy and act in solidarity in the case of supply disruptions.

They called on oil-and-gas producing countries to increase supply, saying OPEC would play a role in this.

As part of this, they agreed to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

The G-7 summit was one of three Russia-focused summits in Brussels on Thursday, taking place alongside an EU summit and a NATO summit.

Separate to the G-7 meeting, EU leaders variously refused to capitulate to Russia's demands that they for gas in rubles.

Watch video 01:23

Russia energy ban: Why is it so controversial in the EU?

aw/rt (AP, AFP, dpa Reuters)