The United Nations is not aware of any biological weapons programmes in Ukraine, a senior official in the Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) reiterated on Thursday in a briefing to the Security Council. This marked the third time since the 24 February invasion that the Council has formally met at Russia’s request to address its ongoing allegations.

The UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumu Nakamitsu, had previously informed ambassadors – first in March, and then again in May – that the UN had seen no evidence of biological weapons use in Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons. Mr. Ebo reported on the proceedings of a formal consultative meeting in Geneva, requested by Russia, under Article V of the Convention and the Final Declarations of its Second and Third Review Conferences.

“The Meeting heard the presentation by the Russian Federation of its Article V consultation request regarding respective outstanding questions by the Russian Federation to the United States and to Ukraine, concerning the fulfilment of their respective obligations under the Convention in the context of the operation of biological laboratories in Ukraine,” he said. Both Ukraine and the US responded in the meeting, which ended without consensus. This week, Russia lodged a formal complaint to the Security Council under Article VI of the Convention, stating that Ukraine and the US had not provided “necessary explanations”. Article VI allows States Party to request the Council to investigate breaches of the Convention. Countries would have to cooperate in any Council investigation.

Mr. Ebo reported that since the BWC entered into force, provisions of Article VI have never been invoked. The top official underlined the UNODA’s readiness to support any investigation initiated by the Council. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzya of Russia said issues still outstanding from the consultative meeting must be resolved, and argued that its complaint was well founded. He cited a 2005 Agreement between the Pentagon and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health regarding cooperation on preventing dissemination of technologies, pathogens and information that can be used to develop biological weapons.

Both Ukraine and the US refuted Russia’s claims. “Ukraine has never ever developed, produced, or stored – alone or together with someone else – biological or chemical weapons,” Deputy Representative Khrystyna Hayovyshyn told the Council. “Our country does not possess a corresponding infrastructure for biological weapons development and production.”

Source: The UN

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