The World Health Organization (WHO) has reportedly told Kiev to dispose of dangerous research materials kept in laboratories around the country to prevent the pathogens from being leaked or “accidentally” released.
The UN agency revealed the details behind its recommendation to Ukraine in statements to Reuters and Russia’s TASS news agency on Friday.
“As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” the UN agency stated, as quoted by Reuters. It specified neither the nature of materials that should be destroyed, nor the date when it gave the advice.
The agency only reportedly told Reuters that it had been working with Kiev for “several years” to make sure “accidental or deliberate release of pathogens” never happens.
The Russian military previously accused Washington of creating and funding a network of “biolabs” in Ukraine as part of an alleged bioweapons program. Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed on Thursday that documents it seized in Ukraine’s research facilities suggest that the US was planning to “work on bird, bat and reptile pathogens,” and potentially study whether these animals could transmit such dangerous diseases as an African swine fever virus and anthrax.
On Friday, Moscow called for the UN Security Council to convene to discuss alleged US-backed biological weapons programs in Ukraine.
The US and Ukranian governments have both vehemently denied the claims, insisting that no bioweapons program has ever existed in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesky stated on Friday that most of his country’s bio-research facilities were inherited from the Soviet times, and were “focused on civilian science.”
On Thursday, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines admitted that Washington had “provided assistance” to the labs, but insisted that it was strictly “in the context of biosafety.”