The World Health Organization (WHO) said it advised Ukraine to destroy pathogens in the country’s public health laboratories, according to a report.
The United Nations agency told Reuters that it has been collaborating with Ukrainian public health laboratories for several years to ensure lab safety practices to prevent “accidental or deliberate release of pathogens.”
“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 WHO told the news agency.
The WHO said it encourages all parties to cooperate in “the safe and secure disposal of any pathogens they come across, and to reach out for technical assistance as needed,” and offered to help with technical guidance and coordination.
The WHO did not disclose when it made the recommendations nor shared what pathogens are in the laboratories, and did not answer questions about whether the pathogens were destroyed as per its recommendations, Reuters reported. The statement made no reference to biowarfare.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the WHO for comment.
Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and at their embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment, per Reuters.
Ukraine’s laboratory capabilities are amid an information war since Russia began moving troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russia has repeatedly accused the United States of having funded laboratories in Ukraine that are developing biological warfare weapons, but the United States and Ukraine maintain that the laboratories seek to prevent bioweapons and pathogens.
Ukraine’s main security agency, the Security Service of Ukraine, said back in May 2020 there are “no foreign biological laboratories in Ukraine,” and that laboratories involved in helping mitigate bioweapons and pathogens are owned and funded by the Ukrainian government.
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that documents found by Russian forces in Ukraine showed “an emergency attempt to erase evidence of military biological programs” by destroying lab samples—a claim The Epoch Times cannot independently verify.
In response, a Ukrainian presidential spokesperson said, “Ukraine strictly denies any such allegation.” U.S. government spokespeople have also denied Zakharova’s accusations, and say that Russia may be preparing to use its own chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
Russia’s movement of troops into Ukraine have raised fears that disease-causing pathogens may escape if any Ukrainian laboratories are damaged.
The United Nations Security Council will convene on Friday at Russia’s request to discuss Moscow’s claims of U.S. biological activities in Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Ukraine has public health laboratories that authorities say are researching how to curb threats of dangerous diseases for humans and animals. The labs in Ukraine have received support from the United States, the European Union, and the WHO.
Reuters contributed to this report.