U.S. UN ambassador denounces Russian biological weapons claims
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, denounced Russia's claims that the U.S. is housing biological or chemical weapons facilities in Ukraine at a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday.
Why it matters: The U.S. said the claims, which have also been pushed by China, are false and are being perpetuated to either justify Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine or to prep a chemical or biological false-flag attack against Ukraine.
- The Department of Defense said Thursday that Russia and China's claims were "false," saying there are five biological research laboratories in Kyiv that focus on "diagnostics, therapeutics, treatments, prevention and vaccines" and not on chemical or biological weapons.
- Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky also denounced the claims, saying that "no chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land."
What they're saying: "Russia asked the Security Council for today's meeting for the sole purpose of lying and spreading disinformation, and that is exactly what you have heard from the Russian PR this morning," Thomas-Greenfield said.
- "I will say this once: Ukraine does not have a biological weapons program. There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States, not near Russia's border or anywhere," she added.
- "So, here are the facts. Ukraine owns and operates its own public health laboratory infrastructure. These facilities make it possible to detect and diagnose diseases — like COVID-19 — which benefit us all. The United States has assisted Ukraine to do this safely and securely."
- Izumi Nakamitsu, a U.N. official, said Friday at the U.N. that he is not aware of any chemical or biological weapon programs in Ukraine.
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki had warned in a series of tweets Wednesday that Russia may be preparing to "use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine," after Moscow claimed the U.S. was housing biological weapons in the country.
Victoria Nuland, the Department of State's under secretary for political affairs, told Senators during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday that Ukraine has biological research facilities and the U.S. is concerned about Russian forces gaining control of them.
- "Ukraine has biological research facilities, which, in fact, we are now quite concerned that Russian troops, Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of," Nuland said.
- "We are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach," adding that if a biological or chemical weapon incident or attack occurs inside Ukraine, Russia will be responsible.
The big picture: Russia has used chemical weapons in civilian and conflict zones.
- Russian operatives deployed a nerve agent in Salisbury, United Kingdom, in an attack on a former Russian spy in 2018, and the Kremlin poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent during a failed assassination plot in 2020.
- The Russian-backed Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has used sarin gas against its own people, and the U.S. has claimed that Russia conducted a disinformation campaign in an attempt to cover up those attacks.