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Formal Consultative Meeting of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, September 2022: UK statement

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Ambassador Aidan Liddle delivered the UK’s official statement refuting Russia’s assertions at the BTWC meeting to talk about the baseless accusations Russia has made against the US and Ukraine.

Mr. Chair, the Russian Federation initiated this procedure, which focuses on matters that are crucial to this Convention. I would want to begin by restating the UK’s long-standing and steadfast commitment to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, to actively advancing this Convention, and to defending against attempts to undermine it. We pledge to completely and honestly adhere to the procedure for this Formal Consultative Meeting under Article V.

We must consider the proposal from Russia in its broader perspective. The United Nations General Assembly unanimously condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 as an act of aggression that violated international law.

UK statement Since then, in an effort to defend its unlawful action, the Russian Federation has frequently disseminated false stories and misinformation, making outlandish claims about dirty bombs, chemical weapons, and offensive biological research. In light of this, it is necessary to assess the veracity of Russia’s statements.

Chair, Mr. The BTWC’s Articles I and IV are mentioned in Russia’s accusations. Several delegations have recalled the requirements of these Articles in detail. The first few sentences of Article X, which state that “the States Parties to this Convention undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technical information for the use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins for peaceful purposes,” are also worth mentioning.

There were 32 anthrax illnesses in Ukraine between 1997 and 2022, according to open-source scientific data, and there was a cholera pandemic there in 1994 and 1995. For the benefit of Ukraine as well as for global preparation and response, such strain collections are important for research aimed at understanding outbreaks and combating infectious illnesses. UK statement

Most significantly, there are other factors that should be considered when deciding whether to do research on a given biological agent in addition to its endemic status and history of past outbreaks. Other explanations can be in reaction to threats to international scientific collaboration, readiness for and response to infectious disease outbreaks, and disease surveillance and monitoring.

All of them are pertinent to the BTWC’s requirements, especially Article X. The proof offered by Russia does not point to operations related to offensive biological warfare. The Mechnikov Institute’s cholera and anthrax culture collections, regardless of their size, should be kept, and we believe that Ukrainian research really supports the BTWC’s requirements, particularly Article X.

Thirdly, Russia alleges that it has located drones with 30-liter tanks within Ukrainian territory that it intends to deploy to spray “bioagents.” The sole supporting documentation offered by Russia is a letter from Turkish equipment maker Baykar on export laws. The materials presented do not truly corroborate the Russian assertion that the drones had “the ability to be fitted with aerosol producing equipment with a 20+ litre capacity.”

In reality, the manufacturer specifically states on the page that the drones lack this capability.UK statement The drones mentioned in the Russian documents seem to be of the agricultural variety and were provided under the Chinese “Belt-and-Road” programme in cooperation with the Ukrainian government. They were made by the Chinese company DJI.

Second, Russia asserts that the United States and Ukraine were investigating the spread of avian influenza in wild birds in Europe, citing a scientific pre-proposal from the Kharkov Institute of Veterinary Medicine and a presentation slide titled “Risk of Emerging Infections from Insectivorous Bats in Ukraine and Georgia.” of harmful illnesses as a technique of delivering biological warfare agents. These materials don’t offer any proof to back up such assertions.

The suggested studies are in line with investigations of wildlife that spreads viruses for peaceful objectives. These studies aim to increase our knowledge of how diseases spread and, ultimately, help us to lessen the impact of these infections. There are several instances of this kind of research being carried out abroad, notably by Russia. We believe that this demonstrates how the US and Ukraine are honouring the BTWC’s terms, particularly Article X.

Nevertheless, we attentively listened to the accusations made by Russia and the thorough denial made by the United States and Ukraine, as well as all the delegations present today. We believe that Russia’s accusations have been fairly aired, and after carefully examining their supporting documentation, there is no longer any need to be concerned about the Convention’s compliance. We believe that this procedure has accomplished its goals and should be finished.

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