National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily White...

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily White House news briefing Feb. 11. Credit: Getty Images / Anna Moneymaker

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. national security officials on Sunday warned that Russia is "broadening their target sets," after it launched an airstrike on a western Ukrainian suburb near the Polish border.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, making the rounds of the Sunday political talk show circuit, said the deadly attack on a military base in Lviv — about 10 miles from the Polish border — represented the latest escalation by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sullivan repeated warnings from U.S. intelligence officials that Putin is likely to deploy chemical weapons next.

"We can't predict a time or place, all we can say is that there is an escalating level of rhetoric on the Russian side trying to accuse the Ukrainians and the United States of potentially using chemical or biological weapons, and that's a tell," Sullivan said on CBS’ "Face the Nation." "That's an indicator that in fact, the Russians are getting ready to do it and try and pin the blame elsewhere, and nobody should fall for that."

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, appearing on "Face the Nation," said Ukrainian leaders "do not expect" that NATO will defend Ukraine should Russia proceed with using chemical weapons of mass destruction.

"What we are asking is [a] very simple thing," Kuleba said. "We say arm Ukraine and we will do the rest. Give us all the weapons necessary and we will fight for our own land and for our people."

President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he will not deploy U.S. forces to fight in Ukraine. When asked by reporters Friday if a chemical attack would trigger a U.S. military response, Biden only replied that "Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons."

Sullivan, when asked on NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday about potential consequences for Russia should Putin deploy the use of chemical weapons, stopped short of detailing any next moves, before saying there are "additional measures" being considered "to tighten the economic vice that we have put around the Russian economy."

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily White...

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily White House news briefing Feb. 11. Credit: Getty Images / Anna Moneymaker

"I'm not going to, in public, lay out the specifics of the severe consequences that Russia would face were it to actually use chemical or biological weapons inside Ukraine," Sullivan said. "I will just say that the United States, in coordination with our allies and partners, is prepared to impose such severe consequences, and we have communicated that directly to the Russians."

The United States and other allies have so far imposed a series of economic sanctions against Russia aimed at crippling its economy including freezing the assets of some of Russia’s largest financial institutions and severing normal trade relations.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, appearing on ABC’s "This Week" defended the United States’ decision to not facilitate the transfer of Polish fighter jets to Ukraine, saying the United States is instead focusing on equipping Ukrainians with other air defense systems including drones.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had requested the Soviet-era planes last week. A plan for Poland to donate the planes was initially backed by U.S. officials, but the Pentagon later balked at Poland’s request to fly the planes to a U.S. air base in Germany for the United States to transfer to Ukraine, saying it would be viewed as an "escalatory measure" by Russia.

Kirby said the United States believes the Ukrainian fighters "are doing really well with the systems that they have and the air defense systems that they are using including drones, including MANPADS [portable surface-to-air missile systems], and we believe those are what they need the most, and that's what we're going to continue to try to get them."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who toured a Ukrainian refugee center in Poland this weekend, told CNN’s "State of the Union" that she did not rule out Ukraine receiving the Polish planes "at some point."

"You take one day at a time and make the best defense system decisions, and that can't always be discussed on the air, or you would be giving Vladimir Putin the road map to what NATO wants to do here to help protect Ukraine," Klobuchar said.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who was also part of the trip to Poland, told CNN, the U.S. should move ahead with transferring the planes known as MiG-29s to Ukraine.

"To me, Vladimir Putin and the Russians ... seem to be saying everything is escalatory, and yet they're escalating every single day by coming into Ukraine with these weapons," Portman said. "There's discussion, as you know, of them using vacuum bombs and cluster bombs, cluster bombs against civilian targets. This is an illegal, this is a brutal, totally unprovoked attack, and increasingly, they're choosing civilian targets. So, as they escalate, what the Ukrainian people are asking for is just the ability to defend themselves. Give them the ability to try to stop some of this Russian superiority in terms of air power to be able to save lives."

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