As Russia called for a Security Council meeting on the issue of biological laboratories in Ukraine, India said any matters relating to obligations under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention should be addressed through consultation and cooperation between the parties concerned.
“We have repeatedly expressed serious concern over the ongoing situation in Ukraine,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said.
Speaking at the UN Security Council briefing on Ukraine: Reports of Biological Programmes on Friday, he said India has noted the recent statements by States and wider information regarding biological activities relating to Ukraine.
“In this context, we would like to underline the importance attached by India to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) as a key global and non-discriminatory disarmament Convention, prohibiting an entire category of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
Mr Tirumurti stressed that it is important to ensure full and effective implementation of the BTWC in letter and spirit.
“We also believe that any matters relating to obligations under the BTWC should be addressed as per the provisions of the Convention, and through consultation and cooperation between the parties concerned,” he said.
Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the Council that Russian armed forces are pursuing their offensive operations and laying siege to several cities in the south, east and north of the country.
She said the situation is particularly alarming in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv, where there is the 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.” DiCarlo said the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (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,” she said.
Russia requested the meeting to discuss claims it made of chemical and biological weapon labs in Ukraine supported by the US.
Russian Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said in the Council that “we discovered truly shocking facts of emergency cleanup by the Kyiv regime of traces of a military biological programme being implemented by Kyiv with support by US Ministry of Defense.” He said Russia’s Ministry of Defence has documents confirming that on the territory of Ukraine there was a network of 30 bio labs where “very dangerous biological experiments were being conducted aimed at strengthening pathogenic qualities of plague, anthrax, cholera and other lethal diseases using synthetic biology.” First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy tweeted that “Russian Mission asked for a meeting of #SecurityCouncil for 11 March to discuss the military biological activities of the US on the territory of #Ukraine”.
Mr Tirumurti said India sincerely hopes the “ongoing direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine would lead to cessation of hostilities.
“There is no other alternative except the path of diplomacy and dialogue. The dire humanitarian situation needs immediate and urgent attention,” he said.
India once again called upon member states to adhere to the principles of the UN Charter and international law and respect the sovereignty and integrity of states.
DiCarlo said that as of March 11, OHCHR has recorded a total of 1,546 civilian casualties, including 564 killed and 982 injured, since the start of the invasion on February 24. She voiced concern that OHCHR believes the real casualty figures are likely “considerably higher.”