U.S. officials are concerned that Russia may deploy chemical weapons in Ukraine, though they do not believe an attack is imminent, Politico reports.
Biden Administration officials, including members of the Defense Department, told the news outlet that they are looking to invest in the creation of new resources for detecting the use of chemical weapons ahead of the winter season, during which time they believe fighting will stall. Some officials have expressed concerns that, if Russia were to lose a substantial amount of its forces or if its military were to collapse, President Vladimir Putin could resort to chemical warfare.
"We've always been aware that they have the means and capability to use these types of weapons," an unnamed Pentagon official told Politico. "Our assessment remains the same. We maintain close observation of this conflict, but we've not seen anything that would make us change our posture."
The National Security Council declined to comment when contacted by Politico. A congressional aide did confirm that senators were briefed this fall about Russia's stockpile of chemical weapons and the threat it could pose to Ukraine.
"They don't have the military mass to win in the near term, short of a major Russian collapse," one DoD official noted, adding that this "could happen, but then we go up the escalation ladder."
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