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SC/14827
11 March 2022
8991st Meeting (AM)

United Nations Not Aware of Any Biological Weapons Programmes, Disarmament Chief Affirms as Security Council Meets to Address Related Concerns in Ukraine

The United Nations is not aware of any biological weapons programmes, the High Representative of Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council at an emergency meeting this morning to address related concerns in Ukraine.

“Situations such as this demonstrate the need to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention,” said Izumi Nakamitsu, referring to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, which entered into force in 1975.  Aware of media reports on allegations of biological weapons programmes, she encouraged States parties to the Convention — including the Russian Federation and Ukraine — to consider making use of the available procedures to resolve related issues.

Meanwhile, she highlighted concerns about nuclear power plant safety and security in Ukraine, warning that “the possibility of an accident…is growing by the day”.  Expressing extreme concern that four of seven International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) safety provisions are reportedly not being implemented at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya, she said the forces in control of these facilities must ensure their safe and secure operation, communications must be restored, and operating staff must be allowed to carry out duties free of undue pressure.  Echoing the Secretary-General’s support for efforts to develop an IAEA safety framework for Ukraine’s facilities, she welcomed recent meetings in Turkey he held with the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, called for greater efforts to establish ceasefire arrangements, emphasizing that the logic of dialogue and diplomacy must prevail over the logic of war.  As the war grinds on, civilians are bearing the brunt of the fighting, she said, noting that as of today, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported a total of 1,546 casualties since the start of the invasion on 24 February, with actual numbers expected to be higher.  Most casualties stem from deployed missiles and air strikes amid reports of the use of cluster munitions, she said, emphasizing that aerial bombardment of towns and villages violates international law and constitutes war crimes.

When the floor opened, delegates raised concerns about the potential consequences of the use or threat of use of weapons of mass destruction against the backdrop of the ongoing, broadening war in Ukraine.  Delegates called for strict adherence to the Biological Weapons Convention, and some cautioned against deploying a crescendo of false allegations in the Council amid a real conflict that is claiming lives every day.

The Russian Federation’s representative said his delegation had called for today’s meeting because of facts discovered during Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine:  an emergency clean-up was undertaken by the Kyiv regime of the traces of a military biological programme funded by the United States.  Documents also confirm that Ukraine — with United States support — operates a network of at least 30 biological laboratories, at which dangerous experiments using synthetic biology were being conducted to strengthen the pathogenic qualities of the plague, anthrax, cholera and other lethal diseases, he said.

Calling on his European colleagues to consider a “very real biological danger” of the uncontrolled spread of biological agents from Ukraine, he warned that the risks are real.  Noting that his colleagues will likely say this is all fake news and propaganda, he cautioned that, in the event of any incident involving chemical weapons, the Pentagon has told its Ukrainian colleagues to immediately accuse the Russian armed forces.

The United States delegate said:  “There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States — not near Russia’s border or anywhere.”  The United States Secretary of State has laid out what the Russian Federation would do:  fabricate allegations to justify its actions in Ukraine.  While Ukraine owns and operates its own public health laboratory infrastructure, making it possible to detect and diagnose such diseases as COVID-19, and the United States has provided assistance to do this safely, she said it has nothing to do with biological weapons.

Given the Russian Federation’s track record of falsely accusing other countries of the very violations it is perpetrating, she expressed serious concern that it may be planning to use chemical or biological agents against the Ukrainian people.  To the Russian Federation she said:  “The world is watching.  Photographic and video evidence is mounting, and you will be held to account for your actions.  We will not let atrocities slide.”

Albania’s representative said the Russian Federation should not come to the Council with “fantasies and starry-eyed stories”, but with proof.  He also noted that the Russian Federation has a long and well-documented record of using chemical weapons, including in attempted assassinations, and supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which has used chemical weapons against the civilian population.

Echoing this view, the United Kingdom’s delegate said the Russian Federation’s conspiracy theory is “utter nonsense”, adding that Moscow “is sinking to new depths today, but the Council must not get dragged down with it”.  Similarly, France’s delegate said:  “No one is fooled by Russia’s lies.”  Indeed, this is not the first time that Moscow is spreading lies to cause confusion, sow fear and cover up its own responsibilities, he said, adding that it is the Russian Federation, not Ukraine, that resorted to using chemical weapons in recent years on European soil.

China’s representative said that any concern about biological weapons should trigger the Council’s attention.  In this vein, the Russian Federation’s concerns must be addressed adequately, with the provision of comprehensive clarification and verification.

Ukraine’s delegate expressed concern that the Russian Federation is manipulating the Security Council to the detriment of the organ’s credibility.  Indeed, the Russian Federation’s allegations about biological and chemical programmes in his country are dangerous, as Moscow might be contemplating further attacks using those allegations.  By calling this meeting, the Russian Federation’s delegate has shot himself in the foot once again, he said, emphasizing that Ukraine runs its health systems in compliance with its international obligations.

Also delivering statements were representatives of India, Mexico, Ghana, Ireland, Norway, Brazil, Kenya and Gabon.  The representatives of the Russian Federation and the United States took the floor for a second time.

The meeting began at 11:08 a.m. and ended at 12:59 p.m.

Briefings

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the war in Ukraine is now in its third week, and fighting continues unabated.  The Russian armed forces are pursuing their offensive operations and laying siege to several cities in the south, east and north of the country, with a large concentration reportedly massed along several approaches to the capital, Kyiv.  The situation is particularly alarming in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv, where there is shelling of residential areas and civilian infrastructure, resulting in an increasing number of civilians killed and injured.  “The utter devastation being visited on these cities is horrific,” she said.

Civilians are paying the highest price for the conflict, she said, noting that as of 11 March, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded a total of 1,546 civilian casualties, including 564 killed and 982 injured, since the start of the invasion on 24 February.  OHCHR believes the real casualty figures are likely considerably higher.  Most of the recorded civilian casualties, which include children, have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.

She said OHCHR has received credible reports of Russian forces using cluster munitions, including in populated areas.  Indiscriminate attacks, including those using cluster munitions, which are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction, are prohibited under international humanitarian law.  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.  As of 10 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) has verified 26 attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances, causing 12 deaths and 34 injuries.  This includes the bombing of the Mariupol maternity hospital on 9 March, she said, condemning such attacks.  “We cannot emphasize it enough:  the targeting of civilians, of residential buildings, hospitals, schools, kindergartens is inexcusable and intolerable,” she said.  All alleged violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated and those found responsible held accountable.

Millions of people in Ukraine need urgent assistance, she said, including 2 million internally displaced people.  Humanitarian aid is being scaled up in areas where security permits, with over 500,000 people now receiving assistance.  The United Nations and partners have developed operational plans to meet humanitarian needs where they are most acute, she said, adding that this work needs funding.  Over $1.5 billion was pledged to the appeals launched last week, she said, encouraging donors to release the funding quickly.  It is critical to urgently achieve a cessation of hostilities to allow for the safe passage of civilians from besieged areas and to ensure that life-saving humanitarian supplies can reach those who remain.  On 9 March, over 51,000 people were reportedly evacuated through five out of six agreed-upon safe passages.  These safe passages must continue, she said, stressing that “civilians should be duly and timely informed of the possibility to leave the concerned areas on a voluntary basis and in the direction they choose”.  To expand life-saving assistance and services to those most in need, humanitarian actors must also have safe, rapid, unimpeded and sustained access to all areas.

Turning to the growing number of refugees from Ukraine, which has reached 2.5 million, she commended host countries.  All people fleeing Ukraine, including third country nationals, need access to safety and protection, in line with the principle of non-refoulement and without any form of discrimination.  “The need for negotiations to stop the war in Ukraine could not be more urgent,” she said, noting that three rounds of talks held thus far between Ukrainian and Russian delegations.  Calling for such efforts to intensify, including to further secure humanitarian and ceasefire arrangements as a matter of priority, she urged the sides to build on their contacts, such as the meeting on Thursday between the foreign ministers of Ukraine and the Russian Federation in Antalya, Turkey.  The logic of dialogue and diplomacy must prevail over the logic of war.

The Secretary-General is grateful to the many Member States working in pursuit of a diplomatic solution to this dangerous conflict, she said, adding that he is in regular contact with regional and other leaders and his good offices remain available.  She reaffirmed the United Nations commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.  As the war grinds on, there is already much reflection about its implications, beyond the tragedy it represents for Ukraine.  There is an increasing use of terms such as “turning point”, “defining moment”, “end of multilateralism”, she said, noting that some consequences are already being felt, economically and politically.  Perhaps most alarming are the risks the violence poses to the global framework for peace and security, she said, adding that:  “We must do everything we can to find a solution and put an end to this war; we must do it now.”

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said she is aware of reports that certain public health facilities are in areas impacted by armed conflict putting the safety of those facilities at risk, and appealed to all parties in the conflict to ensure the safety of all such facilities in Ukraine.  The United Nations is also aware of media reports concerning allegations of biological weapons programmes, but not of any such programmes, largely thanks to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits their development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use.  The Russian Federation and Ukraine are both States parties to the Convention and Moscow is also a depositary Government.  Biological weapons have been outlawed since the Convention entered into force in 1975; a total of 183 States have joined the Convention and biological weapons are universally seen as abhorrent and illegitimate.  As the Convention lacks a multilateral verification mechanism overseen by an independent organization, such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), assessing compliance with its obligations is a task for States parties.

Despite the lack of an international verification regime, the Biological Weapons Convention does contain several measures to which concerned States parties can have recourse to address concerns or suspicions about the activities of their peers, she explained.  Within the framework of Article V — under which States parties undertake to consult one another and to cooperate in solving any problems which may arise in relation to the Convention’s application — an annual exchange of information has been established based upon the submission of “confidence-building measures”.  States parties must declare information about relevant facilities and activities on their territory to “prevent or reduce the occurrence of ambiguities, doubts and suspicions” between them.  The Russian Federation and Ukraine both participate annually in the “confidence-building measures”, she pointed out.  The annual reports submitted by them are available to all States parties for the purposes of transparency and reassurance.

Within the framework of Article V, States parties have developed procedures for “clarifying ambiguous and unresolved matters”, including the possible convening of a “formal consultative meeting” to consider such matters.  Under Article VI,  which states that “Any State Party to this Convention which finds that any other State Party is acting in breach of obligations deriving from the provisions of the Convention may lodge a complaint with the Security Council”, an investigation based on the complaint received could be initiated if agreed by the Council.  She noted that Article VI has never been activated.

While these provisions have not been regularly used, they are nonetheless internationally agreed procedures that are available to defuse tensions and to address and resolve any concerns relating to compliance with obligations under the Convention in a multilateral setting.  “I would, therefore, encourage the Biological Chemical Weapons States parties to consider making use of the available procedures for consultation and cooperation to resolve these issues,” she said, adding:  “Situations such as this demonstrate the need to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, to operationalize and institutionalize it.”  She encouraged its States parties to come to the Convention’s ninth Review Conference, scheduled to take place in Geneva later in 2022, committed to a serious overhaul of the Convention to ensure it is properly equipped and resourced to deal with the challenges ahead.

On the worrying issue of the safety and security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, she warned that an accident involving the nuclear facilities in that country could have severe consequences for public health and the environment and all steps must be taken to avoid it.  “The possibility of an accident caused by failure to a reactor’s power supply or the inability to provide regular maintenance is growing by the day,” she stressed.  The forces in effective control of nuclear power plants in Ukraine must ensure their safe and secure operation.

She then expressed extreme concern that four of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) seven pillars for the safe and secure operation of facilities are reportedly not being implemented at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya.  Communications must be fully restored, and operating staff must be allowed to properly carry out their duties and to do so free of undue pressure.  Echoing the Secretary-General’s support for the IAEA Director General’s efforts to develop a framework to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s facilities, she welcomed the constructive meetings he held in Turkey on 10 March with the foreign ministers of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

Statements

VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that “the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable humanity is when facing biological threats”.  In 1975, when the Biological Weapons Convention came into force, it helped the world get rid of those biological threats created by men, because all who signed it understood the huge risk of using such weapons.  “Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that these hopes have not been fully fulfilled,” he said.  He went on to underscore that his delegation convened the meeting today because during Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine, it discovered “truly shocking facts of an emergency clean-up by the Kyiv regime of the traces of a military biological programme, which is being implemented by Kyiv with the support of the United States ministry of defence”, he said.  The Russian Federation Ministry of Defence has documents which confirm that Ukraine has a network of at least 30 biological laboratories in which very dangerous biological experiments were being conducted, aimed at strengthening the pathogenic qualities of the plague, anthrax and cholera and other lethal diseases, using synthetic biology.  This work is being done and funded and supervised by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the United States, he said.

The Russian Federation’s military became aware of a programme that has the goal of studying the possibility of spreading infections using migratory birds, including H5N1 and the Newcastle disease, he said.  Another area of study looks at bacterial pathogens that can spread from bats to people.  As can be seen from the project documents, the United States actively funds the projects in Ukraine.  Under the pretext of curing COVID-19, blood serum from Slavic people has been sent from Ukraine to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the United States, he said, noting that there are biological agents that can selectively target specific ethnic groups.  In Ukraine, there is a growing number of German measles cases.  WHO has declared Ukraine at high risk for polio, he said, adding that in 2019, there was an outbreak of disease that was symptomatically close to the plague.

He addressed his European colleagues, calling on them to think about a “very real biological danger” of the uncontrolled spread of biological agents from Ukraine.  He underscored that a “biological threat, because of its very nature, knows no borders”, noting that “there is no region in the world today that can feel safe”.  He said that he was sure his colleagues will say this is all fake news and propaganda, but the risks are very real, given the interests of the radical nationalist groups in Ukraine.  In the event of any incident involving chemical weapons, the Pentagon has told its Ukrainian colleagues to immediately accuse the armed forces of the Russian Federation and say they are striking against the United States scientific and medical institutions, he said.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said what was heard just now in the Council indicates that these allegations are false, unsubstantiated and part of the Russian Federation’s usual propaganda and the disinformation, which are “conspiracy theories not worth our time”.  The Russian Federation should not come to the Council with “fantasies and starry-eyed stories”, but with proof.  The Russian Federation has a long and well-documented track record of using chemical weapons, including in attempted assassinations and in poisoning its own citizens, like the jailed opposition leader, Alexey Navalny.  As such, members should be very worried that in spreading such disinformation, a crescendo of allegations about weapons of mass destruction could serve as yet another pretext for the Russian Federation to prepare the ground and use chemical or biological weapons during its ongoing invasion of Ukraine while accusing others.  He recalled that Moscow has accused Ukraine of genocide in Donbas of seeking to produce nuclear weapons and of bombarding its own cities, “which is preposterous”, he said.  The Russian Federation continues to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which has used chemical weapons against the civilian population.  The Russian Federation’s abhorrent actions in Ukraine constitute war crimes, he said, citing such cases as cluster munition use, bombardment and assaults on health facilities.  Its unprovoked, unjustified and premeditated act of aggression, with the complicity of Belarus, lacks any legal or moral ground.  He also noted the European Council’s conclusions that welcomed the will of Ukraine to join the European Union.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said that her country’s Secretary of State has laid out what the Russian Federation would do, such as fabricating allegations to justify its actions in Ukraine.  The world is watching Moscow’s actions, she said, also denouncing China for spreading disinformation in support of the Russian Federation.  “Ukraine does not have biological programmes.  There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States — not near Russia’s border or anywhere,” she said.  Ukraine owns and operates its own public health laboratory infrastructure, which make it possible to detect and diagnose diseases like COVID-19, and the United States has provided assistance to do this safely.  It has nothing to do with biological weapons.  The Russian Federation has a long, well-documented history of using biological and chemical weapons.  “It is Russia who is the aggressor,” she said, adding that it had poisoned Aleksey Navalny with nerve agents, and continues to shield the Assad regime in Syria from accountability for repeatedly using chemical weapons.

Given the Russian Federation’s track record of falsely accusing other countries of the very violations it is perpetrating, she expressed serious concern that it may be planning to use chemical or biological agents against the Ukrainian people.  “The intent behind these lies seems clear, and it is deeply troubling,” she said, adding that such agents could be used for assassinations, as part of a staged or false flag incident, or to support tactical military operations.  To counter the Kremlin’s disinformation tactic, the United States is sharing what it knows transparently.  Denouncing the Russian Federation’s attempt to use the Council to legitimize President Vladimir Putin’s choice of war, she said Ukrainians are documenting all actions of the aggressor.  The Russian Federation “cannot paint over the front page” of The New York Times and deny other media reports.  Ukrainian journalists are risking their lives to report on Moscow’s reckless behaviours towards nuclear plants.  Russians are marching in the street to protest Putin’s war of choice.  The United States did not oppose holding today’s meeting because the meeting confirms her country’s prediction was correct and exposed Moscow’s malicious lies to the world.  To the Russian Federation she said:  “The world is watching.  Photographic and video evidence is mounting, and you will be held to account for your actions.  We will not let atrocities slide.”  She added that “we are confident that truth and transparency will prevail.”

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) denounced the unfounded allegations of the Russian Federation that there are biological weapon research labs in Ukraine.  “No one is fooled by Russia’s lies,” he said, calling them a smoke screen and a weapon of war.  This is not the first time that the Russian Federation is spreading lies to cause confusion, sow fear and cover up its own responsibilities.  It is the Russian Federation, not Ukraine, that resorted to using chemical weapons in recent years on European soil.  Moscow is also seeking to cover up the chemical attacks of the Syrian regime.  He expressed concern that it is a prelude to the use of a chemical or biological weapon in Ukraine.  The Russian Federation used premeditated aggression against a sovereign State, violated the Charter of the United Nations and pushed millions of Ukrainians into the streets, leading to the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War.  Neither disinformation nor the veto can mask this harsh reality, nor will the laws adopted by Moscow to muzzle the press. “Russia can fool neither Russians nor the world,” he said.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said the Russian Federation’s conspiracy theory is “utter nonsense”.  There is not a shred of credible evidence that Ukraine has an offensive biological weapons programme.  Ukraine is a State party to the Biological Weapons Convention in good standing.  The research laboratories are established facilities set up to deal with Soviet-era biological programmes and other public health hazards.  This is yet another lie in Moscow’s disinformation campaign.  They said they would not invade Ukraine, and they invaded.  The Russian Foreign Minister then said they had not invaded. A whole pack of lies.  “Russia is sinking to new depths today, but the Council must not get dragged down with it,” she said.  The Russian Federation is invading Ukraine in violation of international law.  They are killing hundreds of civilians through indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities; 2.5 million Ukrainians have become refugees.  One million children have been forced to flee from President Putin’s invasion.  “This is a war of choice that Russia needs to end,” she said.  The Security Council has important work to do.  “We do not sit in this Chamber to be an audience for Russia’s domestic propaganda. And we should not allow Russia to abuse its permanent seat to spread disinformation and lies and pervert the purpose of the Security Council,” she said.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) said he has noted the recent statements from States and wider information regarding biological activities relating to Ukraine.  He underlined the importance of the Biological Weapons Convention as a key global and non-discriminatory disarmament Convention which prohibits an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.  “It is important to ensure full and effective implementation of the Convention in letter and spirit,” he said.  Any matters related to obligations under the Convention should be addressed through consultations and cooperation between the parties concerned.  He expressed his concern over the ongoing situation in Ukraine and said he hoped that dialogue will lead to the ending of hostilities.  There is no other alternative except the path of diplomacy and dialogue, he said, underscoring that the dire humanitarian situation needs immediate and urgent attention.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said WHO has no knowledge of any activities by Ukraine that contravene the Biological Weapons Convention, as the High Representative just informed the Council.  The Biological Weapons Convention is a fundamental instrument, and mechanisms established by it must be used, he said, recalling that Article V stipulates that States must consult with one another to address any concerns.  Mexico opposes the use of biological weapons by any actor under any circumstances, he said.  Condemning attacks against medical and scientific facilities in Ukraine, he called for a ceasefire and, meanwhile, a sustainable humanitarian pause without restrictions or exclusions to ensure that aid reaches those who need it.

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) noted that a conclusive determination of Ukraine’s biological programmes can only be made after further assessment by relevant institutions such as WHO.  He went on to urge the parties to respect the call for an unconditional and immediate ceasefire and for the Russian Federation to withdraw all its invading troops from the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.  The weaponization of chemical or biological agents in the war in Ukraine or anywhere else, would be wrong and that should not even be contemplated, he said, noting that his country supports the call for a verification regime for the Biological Weapons Convention.  Expressing concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine, he also voiced concern about the transmission of the shocks of the war within the global economy and its disproportionate impact on developing countries and small economies, many of which are already caught in the throes of the pandemic.  He also called for the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers in Ukraine in accordance with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) expressed deep regret over the Russian Federation’s decision to call for today’s meeting, done for no other reason than to advance baseless claims against Ukraine and the United States, which she described as intolerable.  Prohibitions on the development and use of biological and chemical weapons must not be undermined.  Given the reckless disregard for nuclear safety and security shown by Russian Forces, there are fears for chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear safety arising from the invasion.  “This in no way, however, supports the claims of weapons of mass destruction development in Ukraine,” she asserted, citing the Russian Federation’s long-standing pattern of using such claims as a cover for its own transgressions.  It is unacceptable to levy such claims at a State party in good standing with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction; and the Biological Weapons Convention.  No evidence has been advanced to support them, she said, noting that Ireland and other countries have challenged these claims in the OPCW.  She urged Moscow to cease its disinformation campaign and refrain from using the Council as a platform to spread it.  Civilians must be protected, and compliance with international humanitarian law ensured.  She called for safe, full and unhindered humanitarian access, urging the Russian Federation to immediately cease its hostilities, unconditionally withdraw from and refrain from any further use of force against Ukraine.

MONA JUUL (Norway) reiterated condemnation of the Russian Federation’s decision to wage war against its peaceful neighbour, Ukraine.  Its call for a meeting today based on a false narrative that Ukraine is developing biological weapons impacts the body’s credibility.  The real threat to international peace and security is the illegal war waged by the Russian Federation against another sovereign Member State.  She condemned its use of cluster munitions, confirmed today, describing the unsubstantiated claim that Ukraine was preparing aggressive action with the use of biological weapons as “intolerable”.  Similar claims emerged around chemical weapons production.  “There is no evidence that Ukraine has developed, or planned to use either chemical or biological weapons,” she emphasized.  Norway remains a staunch supporter of the Biological Weapons Convention and condemns any use of such arms, which would constitute a clear violation of these instruments.  Universal adherence and full implementation by all States parties are key.  She urged the Russian Federation to uphold its international obligations “just like all” must.  She expressed deep concern over the humanitarian crisis, stressing that Norway is appalled by the lack of respect for international humanitarian law demonstrated by the Russian military forces, especially to protect civilians.  “Russia must end this war now,” she insisted, withdraw its forces and engage in good faith to find a diplomatic solution.

ZHANG JUN (China) said that the conflict in Ukraine is rapidly evolving and now is the time to intensify diplomatic efforts to end it and prevent a massive humanitarian crisis.  Peace negotiations are the only viable means to resolve the conflict.  Noting multiple rounds of direct talks by Russian and Ukrainian leaders, he welcomed these positive steps towards achieving peace.  Urging the international community to support these efforts, he expressed his country’s determination to play its part in de-escalating the conflict.  Any concern about biological weapons should trigger the Council’s attention.  The Russian Federation’s concerns must be addressed adequately, with the provision of comprehensive clarification and verification.  The WHO has instructed Ukraine to destroy dangerous pathogens, he noted, seeking details on this matter.  He then rejected the accusations against his country by the United States, urging Washington, D.C., to provide relevant data so that the international community can draw conclusions about the United States’ biological programmes around the world.

JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) stressed that any accusation regarding violations of the basic prohibitions set out by the Biological Weapons Convention are extremely serious and must be thoroughly substantiated by solid evidence.  Such evidence must be presented to and confirmed by an independent and impartial authority, he said, noting that such investigation mechanisms are not strong enough at the moment.  He went on to note that legitimate scientific and technological research on biosafety and biosecurity should be kept distinct and separate from possible violations of the prohibition against the development and production of biological weapons to preserve the Biological Weapons Convention regime.  Research into new and dangerous pathogens should be subject to strict transparency mechanisms, he said, adding that his country has long favoured the negotiation of a multilateral verification protocol as a complement to the Biological Weapons Convention, with additional measures to guarantee protection and security against emerging biological threats.

MICHAEL KIBOINO (Kenya) noted that the conflict in Ukraine continues at an unacceptable cost to that country’s people and the entire world.  Expressing concern about the charges of the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, he said the Biological Weapons Convention weighs the Security Council with the responsibility to consider carrying out an investigation.  He went on to note that the effects of the conflict in Ukraine are being experienced far outside the country, pointing to sanctions and counter-sanctions which are threatening the world food supply, and increasing energy costs which will drive millions more people into poverty.  He reaffirmed Kenya’s recognition of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said that the Council is holding a second meeting in a context marked by the risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction.  The serious accusations are valid on both sides and make clear that there is a persistent risk of the use of chemical weapons linked to the war in Ukraine.  He called on the parties to abide by the relevant provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention.  As a member State of the Convention, he reaffirmed Gabon’s opposition to any use of such weapons.  All belligerents should abide by international humanitarian law.  He called on the States concerned to return to the negotiating table and to put an end to the suffering of civilians, who have paid a heavy toll.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), taking the floor for a second time, said it was expected that Western colleagues did not address the substance of the issue his delegation had put forward.  His counterpart from the United States was “throwing thunder bolts” and other voices are trying to accuse the Russian Federation rather than account for their nefarious activities in Ukraine.  Recalling the container held by then United States Secretary of State Colin Powell in this Chamber, he said that meeting was followed by the United States going into Iraq, whose consequences reverberated throughout the whole Middle East region and leading to the creation of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Military development is a secret enterprise, and those involved do not report to Ms. Nakamitsu about it.  Recalling the attacks made by the United States-led coalition, he said this issue had been “buried”.

Every day, however, mention is made of the Russian Federation using cluster bombs and bombing a maternity hospital in Mariupol, he said, adding that the Russian Ministry of Defence has refuted both incidents.  Indeed, radicals had converted that maternity hospital into a base, he said, displaying a series of photographs.  Referring to the allegedly “destroyed” hospital, he held up one photograph, describing the structure as being mostly intact, which would have not been the case had a rocket or bomb been deployed.  At the same time, he said that the Russian Federation is being told about 17 people that had been wounded in the building, and not a single death was reported.  Drawing attention to “a false photo” of blogger Marianna Podgurskaya taken at the maternity hospital, he said she is using “two different kinds of makeup” in various sets of photographs.  Dismayed by the dirty campaign to blame the Russian Federation of attacking a civilian structure, he recalled that the conflict in Ukraine started eight years ago.  Showing Council members a photograph taken in Ukraine featuring an image of a United Nations vehicle, he said his delegation will request an investigation into this.

Ms. THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), taking the floor again, said there is only one aggressor here and that is the Russian Federation.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) described the Russian Federation’s ambassador as the representative of the aggressor State which sits in the seat of the Soviet Union in this Council chamber.  That status was recognized by the recent General Assembly resolution.  Citing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks yesterday that Moscow does not plan to attack other countries and it did not attack Ukraine, he said the Russian Federation’s officials are struggling to get the story straight about its attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol.  The Russian Embassy in London tweeted that a pregnant woman was wearing makeup and playing multiple roles.  A spokesperson in the Kremlin first said that the Russian Federation does not target civilian infrastructure.  Then, Mr. Lavrov said, without evidence, that the hospital in Mariupol was a warranted target because it had been seized by Ukraine armed groups.  He showed a photo of this woman giving birth to a girl yesterday, rejecting Russian lies about her, her family and the incident.

“We need to hear directly from the mastermind of the war crimes committed so far,” he said, stating that his Russian counterpart in the Council had no idea of what is happening on the ground.  Russian allegations about biological and chemical programmes in Ukraine are dangerous, he said, as Moscow might be contemplating further attacks using those allegations.  By calling this meeting, the aggressor has shot itself in the foot once again.  Ukraine runs its health systems in compliance with its international obligations.  “Russia does not give a monkey about safety of his own citizens,” he said, expressing concern that the Security Council is now manipulated by the Russian Federation to the detriment to the organ’s credibility.  The Russian Federation has hit the maternity hospital, killed more than 1,500 residents in Mariupol, and destroyed that beautiful city on the Azov Sea.  Other cities were razed to the ground.  The Russian Federation planned the bombing of residential areas beforehand.  He then read out a statement of 194 Nobel laureates denouncing the war launched by the Russian Federation.

For information media. Not an official record.