U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Wednesday slammed Russia for calling a U.N. Security Council meeting to advance its allegations that the U.S. and Ukraine are jointly developing biological weapons.
Moscow for months has put forth the allegations with little international support, and the country has now drafted a Security Council resolution that would form a 15-member commission to investigate its claims.
The U.S. publicly acknowledges its support for Ukrainian biolabs but indicates the partnership is conducted for public health and biodefense purposes.
“Colleagues, I am going to keep my remarks short because, frankly, this meeting is a waste of everyone’s time,” Thomas-Greenfield told the Security Council on Wednesday.
“Russia has called us here, once again, for the sole purpose of spreading disinformation,” she continued. “We all know these claims are pure fabrications, brought forth without a shred of evidence. And I would even venture to say the Russian delegation knows these charges are fabricated. But they dutifully carry out marching orders from [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin.”
Russia’s demand for an investigation is filed under the biological weapons convention, which went into effect in 1975 to ban the development and use of biological and toxin weapons.
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, claimed to reporters on Wednesday that Moscow “accumulated a lot of data” on the biolab program and the meeting marked a continuation of Russia’s months-long effort, noting the country previously called diplomats to Geneva under the convention to discuss the program.
“We think that it’s high time we started the investigation,” Nebenzia said.
The U.S. says the Ukrainian labs operate under the biological threat reduction program, which seeks to improve abilities to detect and report outbreaks of dangerous pathogens before they cause major threats.
“The United States does not have a biological weapons program,” Thomas-Greenfield said at the meeting. “There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States. Ukraine does own and operate a public health laboratory infrastructure, as do many countries that seek to guard themselves from infectious diseases.”
As Moscow looks to convince the international community otherwise, U.K. Ambassador to the U.N. Barbara Woodward said at the meeting that “Russia is clogging up the agenda with conspiracy theories.”
Woodward’s accusation comes as fears rise in the West that Moscow will stage a “false flag” operation in Ukraine to combat Kyiv’s recent successes in retaking Russian-controlled territory.
As Ukraine closes in on Kherson, the sole regional capital Russia controls in its invasion, Russia has accused Ukraine of plans to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb.” U.S. officials have portrayed those claims as Russian propaganda.
Ukraine, meanwhile, has suggested Russia may blow up a dam near Kherson to flood the region.
“The Russian Federation has repeatedly spread disinformation, including wild claims involving dirty bombs, chemical weapons and offensive biological research,” Woodward said. “How much more of this nonsense do we have to endure?”