Russia’s allegations that Ukraine with U.S. assistance is developing biological weapons will be raised at a United Nations Security Council meeting scheduled for later on Friday.
The allegations have been dismissed by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and officials in Washinton as “laughable.”
The charges have been made a number of times, most recently on Wednesday by Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, and Dmitry Chumakov, a Russian deputy UN ambassador.
Chumakov urged Western news outlets to investigate the “secret biological laboratories in Ukraine” and Zakharova said Russian troops had found documents in Ukraine showing an “emergency attempt to erase evidence of military biological programs.”
‘A bunch of malarkey’
The US dismissed the claims as “laughable” and White House press secretary Jen Psaki described them as “preposterous”, adding: “This is all an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify its further pre-meditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine.”
Olivia Dalton, the spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, said: “This is exactly the kind of false flag effort we have warned Russia might initiate to justify a biological or chemical weapons attack.
“We’re not going to let Russia gaslight the world or use the UN Security Council as a venue for promoting their disinformation.”
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby called the Russian allegations “a bunch of malarkey.”
Ukraine accuses Russia of planning to use biological weapons
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s claims “make me really really worried because we’ve been repeatedly convinced: if you want to know Russia’s plans, look at what Russia accuses others of.”
Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to fight dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans.
This research has received support from the US, Europe, and the World Health Organization.
Zelensky insisted these centers were engaged only in “ordinary science – not military technology.”
What are biological weapons?
Biological weapons are microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi, or other toxins that are produced and released deliberately to cause disease and death in humans, animals or plants.
Biological agents, like anthrax, botulinum toxin and plague can pose a difficult public health challenge causing large numbers of deaths in a short amount of time while being difficult to contain. Bioterrorism attacks could also result in an epidemic, for example, if the Ebola or Lassa viruses were used as the biological agents.
Biological weapons is a subset of a larger class of weapons referred to as weapons of mass destruction, which also includes chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons.
The use of biological agents is a serious problem, and the risk of using these agents in a bioterrorist attack is increasing.