China has joined Russia in launching a scathing attack on the US, accusing the Biden administration of obfuscation amidst the unfolding saga of American-run biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine.
At their recent weekly media briefings, the Chinese foreign ministry accused the US of “inconsistent and flawed responses” regarding its biological laboratories in Ukraine, urging a “full clarification of its bio-military activities within and outside its borders”.
The matter of the US-run biological laboratories was first raised by Russia last month.
Russia claimed to have stumbled into a “discovery” by its forces fighting in Ukraine that the Kyiv administration had been secretly developing biological weapons programme with the full support of the US government. The Biden administration has vehemently rejected the claims.
At a hastily summoned meeting of UN Security Council in New York, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, who is the current chair of the rotational chairpersonship, warned of dire consequences for Europe and the World in the wake of Russia’s “discovery” of the Ukrainian weapons programme.
Russia had requested the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the main item on the agenda – “the US biological activities in Ukraine”.
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, defended her country.
Firstly, Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of “lying and spreading disinformation”. She turned the table on Moscow, accusing Russia of preparing for a potential false-flag operation in which the Russian forces could use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
It was not the first time that Washington made the claims of a possible false-flag operation, a claim the Kremlin contemptuously dismisses at every turn. Thomas Green-Field also said there was nothing sinister or covert about the laboratories. Thomas-Greenfield pointed out during the recent UN Security Council meeting that “there were no secret dealings” between Washington and Kyiv and everything was done in the open to counter, among other things, pandemics such as Covid-19, a global good in any way it could be looked at.
However, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, insisted during a media briefing last week that Washington’s multiple responses to the biological laboratories has been “contradictory and confusing”.
Under a 2005, agreement between the US and Ukraine, US Department of Defense officials are duly authorised to participate in all activities related to Ukrainian facilities, and Ukraine is “prohibited” from releasing information that the US determines to be “sensitive”.
The Chinese authorities claim that according to the US submission to the 2021 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of States Parties, the US has 26 laboratories and other cooperative facilities in Ukraine.
Zhao argued: “We can’t help but ask: Did the US send teams to Ukraine or not? What exactly is the scope of their activities? How many collaborative facilities are there? What sensitive information in the field of public health is not allowed to be disclosed? Does Ukraine know what the US is doing in Ukraine?”
Russian officials said that their operatives found more than 30 biological laboratories affiliated with the US on the territory of Ukraine and that the relevant items were urgently destroyed, but “traces of plague, anthrax and other pathogens” were found.
Some public information alleges that dozens of biological laboratories in Ukraine were operated on the orders of the US Department of Defense and that the US had invested more than 200 million US dollars in these laboratory activities. The US “research” stand accused of being aimed at establishing mechanisms for the covert spread of deadly viral pathogens.
The Russian embassy in Pretoria recently shared a copy of an “agreement” between the US and Ukraine over Washington’s commitment to work closely in a document with the heading “Ukraine – Weapons: Proliferation”, dated August 29, 2005.
The “agreement” was entered into between the US Department of Defense and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health.
Article One of the Agreement read as follows: “In order to assist Ukraine in preventing the proliferation of technology, pathogens, and expertise that are located at the Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene (Lviv), the Ukrainian Scientific Research Anti-Plague Institute (Odessa), the Central Sanitary Epidemiological Station (Kyiv), and other facilities in Ukraine identified by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, and that could be used in the development of biological weapons, the US Department of Defense shall provide assistance to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine at no cost, subject to the availability of funds appropriated for this purpose, in accordance with the terms of this Agreement”. The document was also reportedly shared during the recent UNSC, prompting fierce rebuttal from Thomas-Greenfield.
The Kremlin is also curious as to why the “agreement” was entered into between two different departments – one Defense and the other Health, instead of the like-for-like government departments.
The biological weapons episode is another chapter in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in terms of the war narrative and the battle for public opinion.
On the one hand, there are tangible efforts aimed at brokering a ceasefire in the conflict and safe many lives and the destruction of property and perhaps, just perhaps thrash out a lasting peaceful solution.
Russia claims that a ceasefire with Ukraine is proving to be difficult by the day due to Kyiv’s “shifting positions”. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week described the talks as “confrontational”.
The negotiations efforts are notably being pushed by Ukrainians and Russians themselves with the assistance of mutual allies such as Turkey, China, India and South Africa, among others.
However, the arduous flip-side is notably heightened US-led economic global campaign against Russia. This week, President Joe Biden referred to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal”. Moscow found the remarks deeply offensive.
The Kremlin summoned the US envoy in Moscow and warned that diplomatic channels between Moscow and Washington are teetering on the brink of being severed. That would plunge the entire international order into a new low, a dark era of complete unpredictability and dangerously heightened possibility of a Third World War that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has previously warned would be “nuclear” and the “deadliest”.
Although the US has continuously accused Russia of spreading “fake news” about the biological laboratories, on March 8, 2022, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland admitted the existence of US-funded “biological research facilities” in Ukraine.
Zhao charged: “If the information released by the US itself is inconsistent and full of loopholes, how can the international community believe that the US is fulfilling its BWC obligations?”
The US is the only country that is opposed to the establishment of a verification mechanism for the Biological Weapons Convention.
Compliance by the US with the BWC can only help restore the international community’s confidence in Washington’s demonstration to abide by its international obligations and would also help to raise the level of global biosecurity.
As things stand, the US evades international inspection whenever it is accused of transgressing the BWC treaty. “This is typical of US double standard,” Zhao complained.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has “strongly recommended” to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine to safely destroy “high-threat pathogens” that might be housed within the country’s public health laboratories in order to prevent “any potential spills”.