Remarks to the press by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia following UNSC meetings on biological security in the context of the sitaution in Ukraine
Before the meeting
Q: What are you expecting to happen now?
A: You will hear our presentation. We have a draft resolution to present.
Q: When will that get to a vote?
A: We need to consult first. We normally consult before putting anything to a vote, unlike some of our partners.
Q: How soon do you hope to get it to a vote?
A: Soon enough.
After the meeting
Vassily Nebenzia: We had two meetings. One on the Biological Convention, where we presented our case. Of course, some our colleagues were still saying that everything had been already decided and rejected and that we came here in vain. We said clearly that we are using the mechanism provided for in the Convention. Since we were not able to use Article 5 of the BTWC, we resorted to Article 6 which provides for the Security Council to establish a commission to investigate into our allegations. At present, there are allegations, and they should be investigated.
At the second meeting, which was private, we discussed what we had raised earlier. It was not a secret. Director-General [of the IAEA] briefed us about the situation at the Zaporozhye NPP and his efforts to establish a protection zone around it. We also raised the issue of allegations that the Kiev regime might be preparing a dirty bomb in Ukraine, discussed capabilities and possibilities that Ukraine has – not just the two facilities that were [initially] mentioned, but its other facilities as well. And we were appealing to our colleagues to make everything possible to prevent such a gruesome scenario.
Q: On the dirty bomb, the IAEA is sending an inspection team. Does that satisfy Russia?
A: We said it to DG Grossi that he should be vigilant because these facilities are not the only ones where that can be produced. As I said, Ukraine has potential. So the IAEA should be vigilant, as well as the Security Council members, who should send strong messages to Ukraine to prevent such a scenario. Of course, we heard the usual narrative from our Western colleagues, that it was a “false flag operation” by Russia. We said we would be happy to be mistaken, but that we cannot simply ignore these serious allegations, which may lead to very unfortunate consequences.
Q: I have two questions. When are you planning to submit the resolution on Article 6? What’s Russia’s answer to Ukrainian and some IAEA concerns that there are now two operations going on in Zaporozhye that are not necessarily synchronized?
A: What operations do you mean?
Q: That Russia sent in more inspectors when that were Ukrainians who were actually operating the plant.
A: I will not be able to answer the second one. That’s the question you should address to Rosatom or Ukrainian atomic energy authorities. What concerns the resolution, we have had the first round of consultations on it and we plan to do the second one. Then we will decide when we put it forward to the Security Council.
Q: Do you think it could be next week?
A: Everything is possible.
Q: Ambassador, you always claim that Bucha was fake because you never got the full list of the victims’ names. But look here, the first list of names of the Bucha victims was published by the Bucha City Council. They have a full list, you just apply for them. Why do you claim that Bucha is fake? All the names are here.
A: We discussed Bucha for quite long, and we explained why we consider it a fake. It’s because there were no reports about the “Bucha massacre” when the Russian military left the city. Only two or three days after they had left the Ukrainians started to say that Russian military had committed a massacre. But I would be grateful if you could provide the names.
Q: They are online. On BuchaNews.
A: Very good. Thank you.
Q: Given what you heard today from your colleagues in the Council, how confident are you that you will get enough support for the resolution?
A: I cannot speak for my colleagues in the Council. I know who were objecting. The objections amounted to accusing Russia of “propaganda games” without any proof. I told them that they should have read the 300 pages of materials, from which it is clear that it is the military agencies of the two countries that were cooperating, that it was not a humanitarian exercise as some of our colleagues claimed. There are orders and signatures by the military on particular cooperation in the biological sphere. There are a lot of interesting documents. If they dared to and took some time to read this, they would find many interesting things, and not the “Russian propaganda”.
Q: What’s your response to the accusations by several of your UNSC colleagues that Russia is wasting the Council’s time?
A: We saw other wastes of time. I do not think that what we had today is a waste of time. Raising an issue of a potential radiological contamination due to the use, say, of a dirty bomb is not a waste of time. It is an issue that should be dealt with seriously.
Q: Does Russia support verification mechanism for the Biological Weapons Convention? As you heard, quite a number of Council members expressed support for such a mechanism.
A: Yes, we are trying to use Article 6 for that purpose. It was not used before, but we have to start one day. So we are using the mechanism provided for in the Convention.
Q: Based on what you know, what is the possibility of a dirty bomb or a nuclear bomb to be used in this conflict, regardless by whom?
A: I hate to speculate on this. God forbid. We clearly said we are not planning to use any nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise in the conflict. But we cannot exclude, as we said it in the meeting, that it can be a provocation to be used by the other side.