‘Not aware of any biological weapons programmes in Ukraine,’ United Nations says

The United Nations has said it is not aware of a biological weapons programme in Ukraine, as Russia’s claim that such a programme exists was rejected by Washington and its allies at an emergency Security Council meeting.

Russia called the meeting on Friday to discuss its unproven allegations that Ukraine is operating biological weapons laboratories with support from the United States.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, told the 15-member council that the UN is “not aware of any biological weapons programmes” in Ukraine.

Nakamitsu said both Ukraine and Russia are state parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), an international treaty that prohibits such weapons. “Biological weapons have been outlawed since the BWC entered into force in 1975,” she added.

The discussion came amid Russia’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 and has since seen Russian troops launch attacks on Ukrainian cities and advance towards the capital, Kyiv. The conflict has forced more than 2.5 million people to flee Ukraine so far.

The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said during Friday’s UN Security Council meeting that Moscow had discovered a network of 30 biological weapons labs in Ukraine.

But that was rejected by Nebenzia’s US counterpart, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who accused Russia of “attempting to use the Security Council to legitimise disinformation and deceive people to justify President [Vladimir] Putin’s war of choice against the Ukrainian people”.

“I will say this once: Ukraine does not have a biological weapons programme. There are no Ukranian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States, not near Russia’s border or anywhere,” Thomas-Greenfield told the council.