Boris Johnson fears Russia could deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine, following same ‘playbook’ they used in Syria
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Thursday that Russia could deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine, echoing fears of other senior Western officials who come as Moscow spreads unfounded propaganda that the United States or Ukraine have such weapons in the field.
“By the way, I’m going to give you another prediction, which is that what you hear about chemical weapons is straight out of their playbook,” Johnson told Sky News’ Beth Rigby. “They are starting to say that there are chemical weapons that have been stockpiled by their adversaries or by the Americans. And so when they deploy chemical weapons themselves, as I fear, they have like a kind of maskirovka, a fake story ready to go.”
Johnson referred to maskirovka, a term for Russian military deception, which uses a mixture of confusion, denial and outright lies to defend an attack. American and Western intelligence agencies have repeatedly warned that Russia would use false pretenses to justify a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which is exactly what Vladimir Putin did when he claimed his forces ” denazified” the nation or that Ukraine, which renounced nuclear weapons in 1994, may attempt to manufacture them.
An international chemical weapons watchdog found that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against its own people three times in 2017. The United States accused Russiawho supports Assad, to thwart investigations into the attacks and to defend a regime that is supposed to have eliminated its stockpiles of chemical weapons.
Russia has also accused the West of organizing the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, despite significant evidence that the attack was ordered by the Kremlin. Germany said Russia used Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent, against Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most high-profile opponent, in 2020.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki and other senior US officials also warned that Russia was trying to create a false narrative that would provide cover or justification for the use of chemical weapons.
“Now that Russia has made these false claims and China has apparently endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia possibly using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or creating a fake operation. banner using them,” PSAki wrote. on Twitter. “It’s a clear pattern.”
Insider reporter Henry Dyer contributed to this report.