BRITAIN accused Russia of bringing about “wild, completely baseless and irresponsible conspiracy theories”. at a UN security council meeting.
It came as the UN security council met at Russia’s request to discuss claims levelled by Moscow about biological activities in Ukraine.
Dame Barbara Woodward said Russia must not be allowed to “abuse its permanent seat” on the council “to spread disinformation and lies”.
“Russia has today brought into the security council a series of wild, completely baseless and irresponsible conspiracy theories,” she said.
“Let me put it diplomatically: they are utter nonsense.”
She added: “We do not sit in this chamber to be an audience for Russia’s domestic propaganda.
“And we should not allow Russia to abuse its permanent seat to spread disinformation and lies and pervert the purpose of the security council.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed fears Russia was spreading a “fake story” that the US or the Ukrainians had chemical weapons in Ukraine as a pretext for an atrocity.
The United States has accused Russia of using a UN Security Council meeting on Friday for “lying and spreading disinformation” as part of a bid to justify attacks with chemical or biological agents in Ukraine.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia was playing out a scenario put forth in the council last month by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — that President Vladimir Putin would “fabricate allegations about chemical or biological weapons to justify its own violent attacks against the Ukrainian people”.
“The intent behind these lies seems clear, and is deeply troubling,” she said. “We believe Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations, as part of a staged or false-flag incident, or to support tactical military operations.”
Russia had requested the council meeting to address its allegations of US “biological activities” in Ukraine — a charge made without any evidence and denied by both Washington and Kyiv.
UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu told the council she was aware of media reports about allegations of biological weapons programmes and said: “The United Nations is not aware of any biological weapons programmes.”
Ms Thomas-Greenfield said Ukraine does not have a biological weapons programme or biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States, as Russia claimed.
Ukraine does own and operate its own public health laboratory facilities which make it possible to detect and diagnose diseases like Covid-19 which the US has assisted Ukraine in doing “safely and securely”.
She said that ever since Russia began building up forces near Ukraine’s borders, Washington’s strategy has been to counter Moscow’ tactics and share what it knows with the world.
“We’re not going to let Russia get away with lying to the world or staining the integrity of the Security Council by using it as a venue for legitimising Putin’s violence,” she said.
“We do not sit in this chamber to be an audience for Russia’s domestic propaganda,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield added. “And we should not allow Russia to abuse its permanent seat to spread disinformation and lies and pervert the purpose of the Security Council.”
The UN human rights office has received “credible reports” that Russian forces are using cluster munitions in Ukraine, including in populated areas which is prohibited under international humanitarian law, undersecretary-general Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council.
“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,” Ms DiCarlo said. “Directing attacks against civilian 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.”
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia replied that the allegations are “refuted repeatedly by our Ministry of Defence”.