Russia White Phosphorous Video Emerges, NATO Plans Chemical War Response

The U.S. is looking at how to respond if Russia uses chemical, nuclear or biological weapons in Ukraine as Moscow stands accused of using phosphorous bombs.

What Russia might resort to in the conflict entering its fifth week will be discussed during a NATO session in Brussels on Thursday involving U.S. President Joe Biden, who has warned of the chemical weapons threat posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The high-stakes meeting comes after Russia was accused of deploying white phosphorous munitions in the eastern city of Kramatorsk on Monday by the deputy head of Kyiv's police, Oleksiy Biloshytskiy.

"The occupiers dropped phosphorous bombs on Kramatorsk," he wrote on Telegram next to the video of material burning on the ground which has not been independently verified.

Meanwhile, British channel ITV released footage of what it said is phosphorous burning in the dark sky over the north-western suburbs of Kyiv on Tuesday.

"March 22, late in the evening, the Russian occupiers used banned phosphate munitions over the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv," Oleksandr Markushyn, mayor of Irpin wrote on his Telegram channel.

"Approximate affected area—Gostomel-Irpin," he said. "The use of such weapons by enemy troops against civilians is a crime against humanity and a violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions."

The Convention on Conventional Weapons bans incendiary weapons although this does not include white phosphorous.

However, the substance behaves in the same way as an incendiary device and can cause horrific injuries.

While not considered an incendiary weapon, rather a smoke-generating munition, it falls "into a crack in the law," according to Human Rights Watch. However, the use of air-dropped incendiary weapons in populated areas where they may hit civilians is prohibited.

Phosphorous burns on contact with oxygen, generating dense white smoke and can be dispersed by artillery shells, bombs, rockets or grenades.

Western leaders are worried that Putin will use chemical weapons as his invasion faces a number of setbacks.

The New York Times reported that Thursday's NATO session will hear scenarios from a White House team of national security officials known as the "Tiger Team" who have sketched possible responses if a Russian attack encroached into the alliance's territory.

Biden said there is "a real threat" such arms could be used, while Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said "any use of chemical weapons would totally change the nature of the conflict," and thus "would have far-reaching consequences."

Stoltenberg appeared to be raising concerns over how NATO should react if chemical or radioactive clouds drifted over the border from Ukraine into an alliance member state.

The Times reported that the alliance will examine whether this would constitute an "attack" on NATO under its charter, sparking a military response.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's defense ministry for comment.

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Rocket attack Kyiv
The site of a rocket explosion where a shopping mall used to be on March 23, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russia has been accused of using phosphorous bombs near the Ukrainian capital amid reports that the U.S. is looking at how it would respond if Moscow stepped up its attacks to include chemical or biological weapons. Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images