The issue of US-run biolaboratories in Ukraine remains open, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told an online briefing on Friday.
“This issue is not closed. Our Defense Ministry continues to provide the international community with information that raises very serious questions and, in fact, enables one to draw the conclusion that in Ukraine the Pentagon was engaged in developing <…> what are considered biological weapons under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention [BTWC],” the Russian foreign minister emphasized, TASS reported.
According to Lavrov, it is no accident that the Americans “scattered these labs across various regions” as this was a means of stymieing the initiative, long promoted by Russia, to create a mechanism for verifying all countries’ compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). In the top diplomat’s view, in addition to Washington’s aim of creating risks for specific countries, the US authorities were also motived by the NIMBY (“not in my back yard”) principle, in which they were unwilling to carry out dangerous experiments on their home turf.
The Russian foreign minister said that the US has claimed that the research is purely for civilian purposes.
“Well, if that’s the case, then kindly conduct this civilian research on your own territory,” Lavrov retorted.
In mid-April, a Russian parliamentary commission presented the final report on its investigation into the activities of US-run biolabs in Ukraine. According to the document, the Pentagon’s military biological program expanded into a large-scale endeavor in recent years and was being implemented under the guise of anti-terrorist projects and as ostensibly BWC-compliant activities. The parliamentary commission also pointed out that Pentagon specialists were involved in the operations of all US-controlled laboratories. Moreover, their work is classified as secret and government agencies in the host countries where labs are located enjoy access only to secondary-level research.
He also called US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement about ending the conflict in Ukraine through “diplomacy” and “negotiation” strange against the backdrop of the West’s constant speculations about the need to defeat Russia first.
“It’s a strange statement, I’ve heard about it,” Lavrov said in response to a TASS request for a comment.
“This is all being said almost simultaneously with statements by the very same Secretary of State, Blinken, the very same leaders of the US National Security Council and the very same European Union and NATO functionaries, who keep saying: Ukraine must first win and carry out a successful counteroffensive, and only then will we decide to negotiate,” Lavrov explained, adding, “This is a schizophrenic situation: they say that everything will be ended by negotiations, but first we have to defeat Russia.”
He also drew attention to the basis on which the West wished to negotiate.
“The United States, together with NATO members and with the European Union, has stated firmly, repeatedly and uncompromisingly that the sole basis for negotiations is the notorious [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky peace formula, which consists of ten points,” Lavrov pointed out, adding, “There are some neutral things there. Trivial, I should say.”
“It is unclear why they were included there,” he noted, naming food and energy security among such things.
“These are the very same things that have been undermined by the West’s sanctions,” he added.
“But the main thing about the prospects for a peace treaty is that first Russia is to withdraw beyond the 1991 borders, the Russian leadership is to be put on trial, and Russia must pay reparations. Only after these preconditions have been met, will peace be made. This is what the West has in mind when it speaks of the need for negotiations and a peace settlement,” Lavrov explained. He remarked that “this split personality disorder does not help to correctly navigate the situation”.
“The way I see it, they are trying to temporarily freeze this conflict, to achieve some kind of cease-fire and buy time to beef up Ukraine’s military muscle again, to create a new military infrastructure, and to supply it with new lethal long-range weapons,” Lavrov pointed out, adding that this scenario “is being advanced by US political scientists”.
He cited a recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine that promotes “exactly this type of scenario”.
“Make peace, take a breather. Yes, Russia will also get a break, but the entire West is behind Ukraine, so we will make it much stronger and then [will] continue to press ahead for the same aims mentioned in Zelensky’s plan,” he added.
“Demagogy has never hindered diplomacy in achieving certain aims, but that’s what diplomats are for: to distinguish some contrived moves from reality,” Lavrov concluded.
Lavrov stated that the West cannot substantiate the groundless accusations about Russia committing war crimes in Ukraine.
“We want everything to be fair, all discussions to be based on facts, and the facts on the basis of which Russia is accused have not been presented to us,” he said, adding, “Speaking generally about the issue of war crimes, accusations of violations of international humanitarian law, there are very few facts that our Western colleagues could present to us. We ask them to substantiate their statements with concrete information and evidence, but this hardly ever happens.”
The top Russian diplomat pointed to the biased and prejudiced position of all kinds of “independent” commissions of inquiry created “through abuse of procedures and abuse of consensus” in various international organizations, including the UN.
“They travel, talk to representatives of the Ukrainian regime, get some information from them and basically form their conclusions on this basis,” Lavrov said, adding, “They do not communicate with those who live on our side of the line of engagement, just as the UN did not come to Donbass for eight long years when we were still trying to enforce the Minsk agreements. They receive the information for such conclusions from the most interested party, in this case from Kiev and its Western sponsors, including numerous non-governmental organizations financed by the Americans and their allies, which use their pseudo-independence to promote the ideas the West wants to put forward.”
Meanwhile, according to the minister, there is plenty of evidence on the Internet and social networks of atrocities and violations of every possible law of war and international humanitarian law committed by Ukrainian fighters, which the neo-Nazis record on video and post for everyone to see. But these “deeds”, he added, “for some reason remain unnoticed by the UN Secretariat.”
Speaking about the activities of the parliamentary commission created in Russia to investigate the crimes against children in Kiev, Lavrov pointed out, adding, “We are interested in ensuring that everything here is fair and just, so the parliamentary commission will, of course, set itself the task of gaining access to real facts in order to analyze these facts, summarize and present them to the public.”