West accuses Russia of using UN Council to spread propaganda

The meeting was originally intended for a vote on Russia’s draft resolution on humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which has been widely criticized for making no mention of Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour. But Russia canceled the vote on Thursday and said it would instead use the meeting to raise what it called new allegations of US involvement in biological warfare activities. These have been repeatedly denied by the United States and Ukraine.

The six Western nations – the US, UK, France, Albania, Ireland and Norway – issued a joint statement just before the session saying: “This meeting and these lies are designed in a sole purpose, to deflect responsibility for Russia’s war of choice and the humanitarian catastrophe it has caused.

They said Russia, not Ukraine, has a long-standing biological weapons program in violation of international law and has a well-documented history of using chemical weapons.

And they accused Russia of abusing its responsibilities and privileges as a permanent member of the Security Council and subverting the Council’s mandate to ensure international peace and security, calling its “horrible campaign of violence against the Ukrainian people…deeply shameful”.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who read the joint statement, later told the Security Council not to forget why they were meeting – “because Russia knew its cynical ploy to pass an exculpatory resolution had failed. and she had to cancel Friday’s vote.

The resolution would have required at least nine “yes” votes from the 15-member council and no vetoes from a permanent member to pass. Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he didn’t have the votes, accusing the West, and in particular the United States and Albania, of exerting “unprecedented pressure” on Thursday. on UN member countries for opposing the measure.

On Friday, Thomas-Greenfield reiterated what she told the council during a March 11 session convened by Russia on its initial bioweapons claims: “Ukraine does not have a bioweapons program . There are no Ukrainian bioweapons labs, not near the Russian border, or anywhere.

Ukraine only has public health facilities supported by the United States, the World Health Organization and other governments and international institutions, she said.

Reiterating the Biden administration’s concern over a possible false flag effort, Thomas-Greenfield said, “We continue to believe that it is possible that Russia is considering using chemical or biological agents against the people of Ukraine.” .

Nebenzia responded by calling accusations that Russia intends to deploy biological and chemical weapons against Ukraine “real cynicism”.

“We have already warned that we know, and we have officially warned (…) against Ukrainian nationalists using chemical agents in certain areas to carry out a provocation, and then accusing Russia of having it done,” he said. “This is a false flag operation.”

Last week, Nebenzia said the Russian Defense Ministry had documents accusing Ukraine of having at least 30 biological laboratories conducting “very dangerous biological experiments” involving pathogens, and that the work “is being done, funded and overseen by the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency. states.”

He circulated a 69-page document to board members at Friday’s meeting and claimed that the MoD had received new details over the past week “that allow us to assert that the components of the biological weapons were being created on the territory of Ukraine” to implement a 2005 U.S.-Ukrainian agreement.

“In simple terms, the Ukrainian authorities have given carte blanche to the Pentagon on Ukrainian territory to conduct dangerous biological experiments there,” Nebenzia said.

Ukraine owns and operates a network of biological laboratories that have obtained funding and research support from the United States. They are part of an initiative called the Biological Threat Reduction Program which aims to reduce the likelihood of deadly disease outbreaks, whether natural or man-made. American efforts date back to the 1990s to dismantle the former Soviet Union’s weapons of mass destruction program.

“The labs are not secret,” Filippa Lentzos, senior lecturer in science and international security at King’s College London, said in an email to The Associated Press last week. “They are not used in connection with biological weapons. This is all misinformation.

British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward, referring to the March 11 meeting called by Russia, said on Friday: “It was nonsense then, and it is nonsense now.”

UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu reiterated what she told the council last week: “The UN is not aware of any such biological weapons program” and does not has no mandate to investigate the Russian allegations.

Russia’s Nebenzia called the material it posted on March 11 and Friday “just the tip of the iceberg.”

He said the Department of Defense was receiving and analyzing more new documents and would continue to keep the Security Council and the international community informed “of the illegal activities carried out by the Pentagon on Ukrainian territory.”

Russia presented its draft humanitarian resolution on Tuesday, a day after France and Mexico announced that their own humanitarian resolution on Ukraine was being transferred from the Security Council, where it was certain it would face a veto. Russian, in the General Assembly of 193 members, where there is no veto.

The Franco-Mexican draft resolution would demand “an immediate cessation of hostilities” and would deplore “the disastrous humanitarian consequences of the hostilities against Ukraine”, provisions which do not appear in the Russian resolution.

French Ambassador Nicolas De Rivière told reporters on Thursday that the resolution will be presented to the General Assembly next week. Britain’s Woodward expressed hope that he would get more than the 141 votes received by a March 2 resolution demanding an immediate end to Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.

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