UN Security Council Votes Down Probe Into Biolabs In Ukraine

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has voted down a Russian proposal to establish a commission to investigate claims of a joint US-Ukraine "military biological" program.

Going back to at least March, Moscow has alleged Ukrainian biolabs have been studying and stockpiling deadly pathogens like anthrax and cholera at US-sponsored labs, saying further this is a violation of the 1972 international convention on biological weapons. 

UN Security Council Votes Down Probe Into Biolabs In Ukraine
Stepnogorsk biological weapons complex in Kazakhstan. Image: US via Department of Defense.

At Wednesday's security council vote, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States and its ally the Ukrainian government have been "through Russia's allegations in Geneva, point by point, and debunked every single one."

US, Britain, and France voted against Russia's proposal - but crucially China backed it, while ten rotating council members abstained, among the 15-nation body.

"The United States does not have a biological weapons program. There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States," Thomas-Greenfield countered.

Instead of military biolabs, Washington has presented the following narrative on its program in Ukraine

During a series of U.N. meetings prompted by the Russian allegations, the U.S. has described the non-military biological labs it has supported in Ukraine since the 1990's, including one called the "Biological Threat Reduction Program" that was created to disassemble the former Soviet Union's programs, to "reduce legacy threats from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons left in the Soviet Union's successor states." 

One key facility that Russian allegations have long focused on remains the Virology Reference Laboratory in Kiev. The lab says they get regularly inspected by a World Health Organization team, and further that after the Russian invasion started, and bombs started falling, they destroyed "particularly dangerous biological strains they had in storage," according to the lab's director as quoted in CBS.

Russia and China have pointed out that Congressional testimony from earlier in the war by US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland was particularly damning and is confirmation that US-backed research into deadly pathogens at Ukrainian facilities was happening.

As for China, during the same month that Nuland gave her testimony (in March), Beijing demanded that the Biden administration "give a full account of its biological military activities at home and abroad and subject itself to multilateral verification."

In response, the US has consistently rejected the allegations as a "conspiracy theory" with US officials meeting with Chinese counterparts in Rome at a previous bilateral meeting being "shocked" at the assertions.

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