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25 Oct, 2022 23:08

Moscow urges UN probe into Ukrainian biolabs

Russia has filed an official complaint over US-backed biological activities in Ukraine
Moscow urges UN probe into Ukrainian biolabs

Russia is calling on the UN Security Council to establish a commission to investigate alleged violations of the convention prohibiting the production or use of biological weapons by Ukraine and the United States.

“We requested a meeting in two days in line with Article VI of the Biological Weapons Convention,” the Russian mission to the United Nations said on Tuesday. 

Moscow’s ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, circulated a draft resolution ahead of a meeting set for Thursday, along with “a variety of documents and evidence that shed light on the true nature of military biological activities of the US and Ukraine on the Ukrainian territory.”

Russia was forced to invoke Article VI of the convention to raise the issues with the Security Council after its repeated inquiries were largely ignored by Washington and Kiev, who “have not provided necessary explanations, nor have they taken immediate measures to remedy the situation,” Nebenzia explained.

Moscow has alleged that the two countries conducted secretive, joint biological research on Ukrainian soil, claiming it had obtained incriminating evidence of those activities during the ongoing military operation. The Russian Defense Ministry has gradually released said materials to the public in batches since March.

“The data analysis gives evidence of non-compliance by the American and Ukrainian sides with the provisions” of the BWC, Nebenzia said.

Last month, Russia convened a meeting of BCW member states in Geneva, which failed to provide any tangible result, with delegates from 35 out of 89 nations either dismissing the Russian claims or expressing support for the kind of research the US and Ukraine were conducting, according to the US State Department. Only seven nations expressed support for Russia: Belarus, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela.

In the wake of the meeting, Moscow proposed amendments to the BWC, floating three ideas to reinforce the landmark international agreement and make it more legally binding for its parties. Namely, Russia called for negotiations on a “legally binding protocol,” an “effective verification mechanism” and a “scientific advisory committee” within the group.

Russia also proposed making the control mechanisms more transparent, with additional “confidence-building measures,” suggesting BWC participants must be obliged to declare their “activities in the biological sphere outside the national territory.”

The US and Ukraine have dismissed Russia’s bioweapons claims as disinformation and a conspiracy theory. Back in June, the Pentagon published the ‘Fact Sheet on WMD Threat Reduction Efforts with Ukraine, Russia and Other Former Soviet Union Countries’. The US military claimed that following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington has “worked collaboratively to improve Ukraine’s biological safety, security, and disease surveillance for both human and animal health,” by providing support to “46 peaceful Ukrainian laboratories, health facilities, and disease diagnostic sites over the last two decades.” These programs have allegedly focused on “improving public health and agricultural safety measures at the nexus of nonproliferation.”