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June 7, 2023 12:25 pm

India abstains on Russia-sponsored UNSC resolution involving Ukraine

United Nations, November 3

India has abstained on yet another resolution involving Ukraine, this time a motion sponsored by Russia at the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Only China voted with Russia on Wednesday on the resolution calling for an inquiry into what Moscow alleged was a joint bio-warfare programme run by the US and Ukraine in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

All the 10 non-permanent members abstained and the only negative votes from the US, Britain and France did not amount to vetoes because the resolution automatically failed without getting the minimum of nine votes.

Explaining India’s abstention, Counsellor Asokan Amarnath cited the absence of “an effective, universal and non-discriminatory verification mechanism” for implementing the provisions of the BWC.

He told the Council that developing such a verification mechanism “is necessary to strengthen the BWC and its implementation”.

“We hope the current situation will provide an impetus for early consideration and negotiation of such a Protocol” for verification, he added.

India is one of the 184 signatories to the convention that bans the use, manufacture, distribution and stockpiling of biological weapons.

This was at least the 11th time India had abstained on a substantive resolution at the Security Council and the General Assembly involving Ukraine.

Amarnath emphasised the importance of the BWC’s Article X which gives nations the right to participate in research and share biological information, materials and equipment for peaceful purposes.

India “underlines that biological-related activities for peaceful purposes that are fully consistent with the Convention’s obligations should not be undermined”, he added.

The US has dismissed Russia’s allegations about the bioweapons programme saying that under its Cooperative Biological Threat Reduction programme it had only assisted Ukraine in destroying any material left in that country by the Soviet Union when that country became independent.

Russia has claimed that biological weapons were being developed in Ukrainian laboratories with US funding and help and circulated what it said were documents regarding the alleged cooperation that it seized after invading Ukraine.

Last week it circulated a dossier of more than 300 pages outlining the allegations.

US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that Russia’s resolution “is based on disinformation, dishonesty, bad faith, and a total lack of respect for this body”.

She said that Russia knew that the US’ “Cooperative Threat Reduction efforts are not for military purposes” because Moscow had itself “participated in this very kind of cooperation with us, including on biological threats” for two decades.

Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitri Polyansky accused the West of showing a “colonial mentality” in opposing its proposal for an inquiry to report back by the end of the month.

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