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US, Russia exchange accusations at UN over bio-weapons in Ukraine

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya speaks during a Security Council meeting, Friday, March 11, 2022, at UN headquarters. (UNTV via AP)

The US and Russia exchange accusations at the United Nations Security Council over alleged biological weapons in Ukraine. Russia insists that the US has financed a biological weapons research program in Ukraine while Washington denies the accusation.   

The Russian permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya told the Security Council meeting on Friday that the Ukrainian government has allowed its own people to be used as guinea pigs for biological weapons research.

Nebenzya said the labs have studied how to spread viruses using birds and bats, citing as evidence that a growing number of disease outbreaks have been reported in Ukraine in recent years.

The Russian envoy warned the European countries of the danger posed by Ukraine’s research into biological weapons.

“We call upon you to think about a very real biological danger to the people in European countries, which can result from an uncontrolled spread of bioagents from Ukraine,” Nebenzya said. “And if there is such a scenario then all Europe will be covered.”

“The risk of this is very real given the interests of the radical nationalist groups in Ukraine are showing towards the work with dangerous pathogens conducted together with the ministry of defense of the United States,” he added.

But US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield rejected Russia’s allegation of US biological activities, claiming that biological laboratories in Ukraine have nothing to do with chemical arms.

She said such accusations are a sign that Moscow plans to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.

"And we are deeply concerned that Russia's calling for this meeting is a potential false flag effort in action – exactly the kind we have been warning about, including from Secretary Blinken here in the security council last month," she said.

According to Greenfield, Russia has a "track record of falsely accusing other countries of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating."

She added that the UN Security Council meeting revealed Russia's objectives to the world, and "exposed Russia's lies" which she called "a malicious effort to cover for the atrocities being committed by Russia as part of their illegal and unprovoked attack on Ukraine."

"Ukraine does not have a biological weapons program. There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States – not near Russia's border or anywhere," she said.

The UN disarmament chief told the meeting the organization is not aware of any biological weapons program in Ukraine. The government in Kiev has denied any such program on Ukrainian soil.

US President Joe Biden on Friday warned that Russia would pay a severe price if it launched a chemical weapons attack during its ongoing military action in Ukraine.

“I'm not going to speak about the intelligence … but Russia would pay a severe price if they use chemical weapons," Biden said.

The United States on Tuesday made a stunning admission, saying that Ukraine hosts US-funded “biological research facilities." 

US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland expressed concern during a Senate hearing on Ukraine after Russia published documents showing that Kiev was ordered to urgently eliminate traces of what was deemed as a biological weapons program, financed by the Pentagon.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had found evidence of US-funded biolabs in Ukraine. 

The ministry said it had been closely monitoring the bioweapons programs that were developed by the Pentagon in post-Soviet countries, adding that according to new findings, a “network” of more than 30 biological laboratories was formed in Ukraine in particular.

The White House’s warning of the potential for Russia to use chemical weapons in Ukraine “has to be viewed as a warning that the US plans to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, and to then try to blame it on Russia,” according to American journalist and political analyst Don DeBar.

But, in an interview with Press TV on Thursday, DeBar warned that “they'll be making a severe miscalculation.”

“This statement from the White House, assuming Biden understood it or saw it before Jen Psaki made it, has to be viewed as a warning that the US plans to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, and to then try to blame it on Russia,” he pointed out.

“If they do that,” DeBar added, “they'll be making a severe miscalculation. No one in the world - except perhaps half, or less, of the American people - will believe it. And I'm not referring to that measure of public opinion which the New York Times or CNN or Reuters polls will show. I'm talking about what the actual people here will be willing to believe in the midst of their own suffering, with $5 to $10 a gallon gas and bread that's about to triple or quadruple in price.”

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