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China urges US answer on Ukraine biolabs

Russia’s revelations of documents pertaining to US-backed biological laboratories in Ukraine deserve the world’s attention, and the parties involved need to address those concerns, China’s permanent representative to the UN told the Security Council on Friday.

Having been a victim of chemical and biological weapons, China believes that “any information and leads on biological military activities should trigger heightened concern and attention of the international community to avoid irreparable harm,” Ambassador Zhang Jun said.

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“Russia has further revealed the newly discovered relevant documents. The party concerned should respond to questions, and offer timely and comprehensive clarifications to remove the doubts of the international community,” Zhang added.

Friday’s UNSC briefing was called by Russia, which shared the evidence obtained from laboratories across Ukraine. Moscow’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, argued that if the dangerous pathogens the laboratories were working on had leaked, the impact on Europe would be “difficult to imagine” and could have been worse than the Covid-19 pandemic, in comparison.

According to a briefing by the Russian military on Thursday, the Pentagon-funded labs were working on “biological weapons components,” and may have been connected to suspicious outbreaks of dirofilariasis, tuberculosis and avian flu over the past several years. 

If the pathogens had gotten out of the labs, Nebenzia told the UN Security Council, “the scale of impact, including among the population of European countries, in this case is even difficult to imagine. It is possible that even the coronavirus epidemic could pale [in comparison] to this.”

Washington has for years dismissed as “disinformation” Russian claims of biolabs in Ukraine, and said the US was only funding peaceful medical research there. Earlier this month, however, senior State Department official Victoria Nuland admitted that the US was concerned about Russia potentially taking control of the labs and their contents.

Meanwhile, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu said that the world organization has neither the authority nor the ability to verify the data provided by Russia on the alleged US military biological program in Ukraine.

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