The United States has accused Russia of using a UN Security Council meeting on Friday for “lying and spreading disinformation” as part of a bid to justify attacks with chemical or biological agents in Ukraine.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia was playing out a scenario put forth in the council last month by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — that President Vladimir Putin would “fabricate allegations about chemical or biological weapons to justify its own violent attacks against the Ukrainian people”.
“The intent behind these lies seems clear, and is deeply troubling,” she said. “We believe Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations, as part of a staged or false-flag incident, or to support tactical military operations.”
Russia had requested the council meeting to address its allegations of US “biological activities” in Ukraine — a charge made without any evidence and denied by both Washington and Kyiv.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield said Ukraine does not have a biological weapons programme or biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States, as Russia claimed.
Ukraine does own and operate its own public health laboratory facilities which make it possible to detect and diagnose diseases like Covid-19 which the US has assisted Ukraine in doing “safely and securely”.
She said that ever since Russia began building up forces near Ukraine’s borders, Washington’s strategy has been to counter Moscow’ tactics and share what it knows with the world.
“We’re not going to let Russia get away with lying to the world or staining the integrity of the Security Council by using it as a venue for legitimising Putin’s violence,” she said.
The UN human rights office has received “credible reports” that Russian forces are using cluster munitions in Ukraine, including in populated areas which is prohibited under international humanitarian law, undersecretary-general Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council.
“Indiscriminate attacks, including those using cluster munitions, which are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction, are prohibited under international humanitarian law,” Ms DiCarlo said. “Directing attacks against civilian and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages, are also prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.”
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia replied that the allegations are “refuted repeatedly by our Ministry of Defence”.