United Nations, March 12 : As Russia and the West clashed at the UN Security Council over Moscow’s allegations about biological warfare plants in Ukraine, India on Friday called for “consultation and cooperation” to deal with the issue.
“Any matters relating to obligations under the BTWC (Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention) should be addressed as per the provisions of the Convention, and through consultation and cooperation between the parties concerned,” India’s Permanent Representative to UN, T.S. Tirumurti, said at a Council meeting convened at the request of Russia to consider its allegations that biological weapons were being made in Ukraine.
Tirumurti was referring to Article 5 of the 1972 Convention that UN High Representative Izumi Nakamitsu quoted at the meeting: “Parties to this convention undertake to consult one another and to cooperate in solving any problems which may arise in relation to the objective of or in the application of the provisions of this convention.”
“We would like to underline the importance attached by India to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) as a key global and non-discriminatory disarmament Convention, prohibiting an entire category of weapons of mass destruction,” Tirumurti said.
Without taking sides in the clash of allegations between the West and Russia, and without naming any country, he said, “We have noted the recent statements by states and wider information regarding biological activities relating to Ukraine.”
He added, “It is important to ensure full and effective implementation of the BTWC in letter and spirit.”
He also “expressed serious concern over the ongoing situation in Ukraine”, and said he hoped that direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine would lead to a ceasefire.
Russia’s Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzia alleged that Russia had discovered a network of laboratories backed by the US Defence Department conducting “very dangerous biological experiments” involving “plague, Anthrax, tularemia, cholera, and other lethal diseases using synthetic biology”.
He said, “We discovered the truly shocking acts of emergency clean up by the Kiev regime of all the traces of a major biological programme.”
But Nakamitsu said categorically, “The United Nations is not aware of any biological weapons programmes” in Ukraine.
Albania’s Permanent Representative Ferit Hoxa called the Rusian allegations “information warfare” targeting health facilities.
He said that going by past incidents, Russia was likely setting the stage for itself carrying out a biological attack and then blaming Ukraine.
He noted that Russia had used chemical weapons against its own citizens like Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader.
US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that Russia could be setting the stage for a “false flag” assassination with chemical or biological weapons to create a pretext to carry out military operations.
She said, “We have serious concerns that Russia may be planning to use chemical or biological agents against the Ukrainian people. The intent behind these lies seemed clear, and it is deeply troubling.”
“We believe Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations as part of a staged false flag incident or to support tactical military operations,” she added.
Thomas-Greenfield said, “Ukraine does not have a biological weapons programme. There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States.”
“So here are the facts: Ukraine owns and operates its own public health laboratory infrastructure — facilities [that] make it possible to detect and diagnose diseases like Covid-19 which benefit us all,” she said.
She added, “The United States has assisted Ukraine to do this safely and securely, clearly and out in the open. This work has everything to do with protecting the health of people. It’s absolutely nothing, absolutely nothing to do with biological weapons.
“And China too has been spreading disinformation in support of Russia’s outrageous claim.”
Beijing’s Permanent Representative Zhang Jun came to the surrport of Russia, saying, “China has noted with concern credible information released by Russia.”
“The concerns raised by Russia should be properly addressed,” he added.
Under-Secretary-General Rosemary Di Carlo raised the probability that Russia may be guilty of war crime and called for investigations.
She said, “Directing attacks against civilians 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.”
“All alleged violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated and those found responsible held accountable,” she added.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed @arulouis)