US denounces Russian claims of Ukrainian biological weapons as a ‘false flag’

US denounces Russian claims of Ukrainian biological weapons as a ‘false flag’
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Updated 12 March 2022

US denounces Russian claims of Ukrainian biological weapons as a ‘false flag’

US denounces Russian claims of Ukrainian biological weapons as a ‘false flag’
  • American envoy told UN Security Council that Moscow has a track record of falsely accusing others of the very crimes it is guilty of itself
  • The emergency meeting was called by Russia after allegations by the Kremlin that Washington is funding biological-weapons labs in Ukraine

NEW YORK: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned last month that Russia would manufacture a pretext for invading Ukraine. He also warned that Moscow would fabricate allegations about chemical or biological weapons to justify violent attacks against the Ukrainian people.
“The world is watching Russia do exactly what we warned it would,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, told fellow members of the Security Council on Friday.
The emergency meeting was called by the Russian delegation after allegations from Moscow that its troops had uncovered evidence of US-funded biological-weapon programs in Ukraine, including documents it said confirmed the development of “biological weapons components.”
The Russian defense ministry claimed that the US “planned to organize work on pathogens of birds, bats and reptiles in Ukraine in 2022.”
During Friday’s meeting, Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia repeated accusations by the ministry that Washington is supporting military-related biological research in Ukraine and Georgia with the goal of creating “bio-agents capable of selectively targeting different ethnic populations.”
Thomas-Greenfield said the Russian delegation called the Security Council meeting with the sole aim of legitimizing disinformation and deceiving the world in an attempt to justify “President (Vladimir) Putin’s war of choice against the Ukrainian people.”
She also accused China of spreading disinformation in support of Russia’s claims.
“I will say this once: Ukraine does not have a biological-weapons program,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “There are no Ukrainian biological-weapons laboratories supported by the United States — not near Russia’s border or anywhere.”
She added that Ukraine owns and operates its own public-health laboratories to detect and diagnose diseases, including COVID-19.
“The United States has assisted Ukraine to do this safely and securely,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “This is work that has been done proudly, clearly and out in the open. This work has everything to do with protecting the health of people. It has absolutely nothing — absolutely nothing — to do with biological weapons.”
Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN’s disarmament chief, told members of the council that no evidence has been found to support the Russian claims of biological-weapons development in Ukraine.
Thomas-Greenfield also accused Russia of long maintaining its own biological-weapons program, in violation of international law, and having a well-documented history of using such weapons.
She highlighted as evidence of this the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny by Russian operatives, and Moscow’s continued support of President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and its efforts to “shield it from accountability when the UN and the (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) have confirmed that Assad has repeatedly used chemical weapons over the past several years.”
The US envoy said her country is deeply concerned that Russia’s call for the Security Council meeting is a “potential false flag effort in action.”
A false flag operation is an action performed with the aim of disguising the true culprit and instead blame another.
“Russia has a track record of falsely accusing other countries of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “And (we) have serious concerns that Russia may be planning to use chemical or biological agents against the Ukrainian people.
“The intent behind these lies seems clear and it is deeply troubling. We believe Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations, as part of a staged or false-flag incident, or to support tactical military operations.
“From the beginning, our strategy to counter Russia’s tactics has been to share what we know with the world, transparently — and, candidly, we have been right more often than we’d like.”
She vowed not to allow Russia to “get away with lying to the world or staining the integrity of the Security Council by using this forum as a venue for legitimizing Putin’s violence.”
Russia has attacked homes, schools, orphanages and hospitals, Thomas-Greenfield said.
“Their forces are laying Ukrainian cities under siege,” she added. “Hundreds of thousands of civilians now don’t have access to electricity for heat, or drinking water to stay alive. Russia is the aggressor here.”
She stressed that despite Moscow’s efforts to spread disinformation, it cannot “paint over” newspaper stories or “cover up” the work of the Ukrainian and international journalists on the ground in the country who are reporting the reality of civilian suffering and deaths.
Meanwhile, the Russian media alleged that a pregnant woman pictured being carried on a stretcher while a hospital in Mariupol was evacuated after a Russian attack was an actress.
“Even Russia’s own citizens are tiring of such lies,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “Russian athletes are writing ‘no war’ on their shoes and on TV cameras. Russian citizens are marching in the streets and protesting Putin’s war of choice. And even Russian state-TV pundits — Putin’s own propaganda arm — have called for Putin to stop the military action.”
Thomas-Greenfield again called on the Russian president to end this “unprovoked, unconscionable war against the Ukrainian people.”


South Korea, US conduct missile drill in response to North Korea missile test

South Korea, US conduct missile drill in response to North Korea missile test
Updated 05 October 2022

South Korea, US conduct missile drill in response to North Korea missile test

South Korea, US conduct missile drill in response to North Korea missile test

SEOUL South Korea and the US military fired a volley of missiles into the sea in response to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan, Seoul said on Wednesday, as Pyongyang’s longest-range test yet drew international condemnation.
Nuclear-armed North Korea test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) farther than ever before on Tuesday, sending it soaring over Japan for the first time in five years and prompting a warning for residents there to take cover.
South Korean and American troops staged a missile drill of their own in response, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday.
Each side fired a pair of US-made ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles, according to a statement.
The military separately confirmed that a South Korean Hyunmoo-2 missile failed shortly after launch and crashed, but caused no casualties.
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned North Korea’s test in the “strongest terms,” the European Union called it a “reckless and deliberately provocative action,” and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the launch and said it was a violation of Security Council resolutions. The United States asked the UN Security Council to meet on North Korea on Wednesday but diplomats said China and Russia are opposed to a public discussion by the 15-member body.


Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets

Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets
Updated 05 October 2022

Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets

Indonesia pins hopes on UAE trade pact to open new export markets
  • Indonesia-UAE bilateral trade volume reached around $4 billion in 2021
  • Trade pact erases about 99 percent of existing tariffs, Indonesian ministry says

JAKARTA: Indonesia is hopeful that a wide-ranging economic pact with the UAE will open more markets in the Gulf region to the country’s exports, the Trade Ministry said on Tuesday, as officials aim to ratify the agreement by November.

Indonesia and the UAE signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in July, after talks aimed at eliminating tariffs and boosting investment between the two countries were launched in September 2021. The pact is Jakarta’s first with a Gulf country and Abu Dhabi’s first with a Southeast Asian nation.

Bilateral trade volume reached around $4 billion last year, according to Indonesian Trade Ministry data, showcasing an increase of nearly 38 percent from 2020, when it was worth $2.9 billion.

The agreement is still pending ratification by the Indonesian House of Representatives, which held a meeting this week with Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan to discuss the process in detail.

“IUAE-CEPA will benefit Indonesia because UAE will be Indonesia’s hub to tap new, very big markets,” Hasan said, as quoted by the ministry in a statement on Tuesday.

Through the agreement, he continued, the country’s goods, from jewelry and agricultural commodities to products from small and medium-sized enterprises, can enter Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Hasan said the pact is expected to boost Indonesian exports to the UAE by an annual average of 7.7 percent.

The pact erases about 99 percent of existing tariffs, the Trade Ministry said, and includes commitments to increase Indonesia’s services exports to the UAE by 6 percent and mutually recognize each country’s halal certification.

“We hope that Indonesia will ratify IUAE-CEPA before the upcoming meeting between the presidents of Indonesia and the UAE in Solo that is being planned for Nov. 17, 2022,” Hasan said.

The trade pact appears to be part of the Indonesian government’s strategy to attract more investment from the UAE, Yanuar Rizky, economist and chairman of Jakarta-based research company Bejana Investidata Globalindo, told Arab News.

“From what I’ve read, Indonesia is hoping that with the tariff cut and its becoming a trading hub, UAE investment will increase in Indonesia,” Rizky said.

“This is something that the Jokowi administration has continued to pursue,” he added, referring to Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s popular nickname.

Rizky said the effort is in line with ongoing attempts to attract foreign investors to fund the development of a $32 billion new capital city in Borneo, a project that saw Japan’s SoftBank withdraw its backing earlier this year.

UAE Ambassador to Indonesia Abdulla Salem Obaid Al-Dhaheri said in March that his country would invest in Indonesia’s new capital through an existing $10 billion funding commitment to the Indonesia Investment Authority.
 


Three physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science

Three physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science
Updated 05 October 2022

Three physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science

Three physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science

STOCKHOLM: Three scientists jointly won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work on quantum information science that has significant applications, for example in the field of encryption.

Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger were cited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for discovering the way that unseen particles, such as photons or tiny bits of matter, can be linked, or “entangled,” with each other even when they are separated by large distances.

“Being a little bit entangled is sort of like being a little bit pregnant. The effect grows on you,” Clauser said in a Tuesday morning phone interview with The Associated Press.

It all goes back to a feature of the universe that even baffled Albert Einstein and connects matter and light in a tangled, chaotic way.

Clauser, 79, was awarded his prize for a 1972 experiment that helped settle a famous debate about quantum mechanics between Einstein and famed physicist Niels Bohr. Einstein described “a spooky action at a distance” that he thought would eventually be disproved.

“I was betting on Einstein,” Clauser said. “But unfortunately I was wrong and Einstein was wrong and Bohr was right.”

Clauser said his work on quantum mechanics shows that you can’t confine information to a closed volume, “like a little box that sits on your desk” — though even he can’t say why.

“Most people would assume that nature is made out of stuff distributed throughout space and time,” Clauser said. “And that appears not to be the case.”

Quantum entanglement “has to do with taking these two photons and then measuring one over here and knowing immediately something about the other one over here,” said David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.


US ex-Marine gets 4-1/2 years in Russian penal colony for attacking police officer

US ex-Marine gets 4-1/2 years in Russian penal colony for attacking police officer
Updated 04 October 2022

US ex-Marine gets 4-1/2 years in Russian penal colony for attacking police officer

US ex-Marine gets 4-1/2 years in Russian penal colony for attacking police officer
  • Police hauled Robert Gilman off a train in Voronezh in January, while he was traveling from the southern city of Sochi to Moscow, after complaints from fellow passengers about his behavior
  • Russia has sentenced several US citizens to lengthy prison terms in recent years, though Gilman’s case has attracted less attention than most

LONDON: Former US marine Robert Gilman was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in a Russian penal colony on Tuesday for attacking a police officer while drunk, Russian news agencies reported.
Police hauled Gilman off a train in Voronezh in January, while he was traveling from the southern city of Sochi to Moscow, after complaints from fellow passengers about his behavior, the agencies reported, citing the prosecution.
While in custody, Gilman was accused of kicking out at a police officer, leaving him with bruises.
Gilman, whose lawyers told the TASS news agency he had come to Russia to study and obtain citizenship, told the court in Voronezh that he did not remember the incident but had “apologized to Russia” and to the police officer.
After being found guilty, Gilman said the four-and-a-half year sentence requested by the prosecution was too strict.
Gilman’s lawyer Valeriy Ivannikov told reporters he intended to appeal and would ask the United States to seek a prisoner exchange.
US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Washington was aware of the decision but said he could not give further details citing privacy considerations.
“We continue to insist that the Russian Federation allow consistent, timely consular access to all (detained) US citizens, and we urge the Russian government to ensure fair treatment to all US citizens detained in Russia,” Patel said, declining to say whether consular access had been granted in Gilman’s case.
Russia has sentenced several US citizens to lengthy prison terms in recent years, though Gilman’s case has attracted less attention than most.
WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner was sentenced in August to nine years in prison after being found in possession of cannabis oil vape cartridges.
Paul Whelan, another ex-marine who also holds Canadian, Irish and British citizenship, is serving 16 years in prison on espionage charges, which he denies.
But in April, former marine Trevor Reed, who was serving nine years after being found guilty of violence against a police officer, was freed in a prisoner exchange.
Russian officials have said they are in talks with Washington about possible new prisoner exchanges. Media reports say they could involve convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, serving a 25-year sentence in the United States, being released back to Russia.


UK interior minister vows to stop migrant ‘small boats’

UK interior minister vows to stop migrant ‘small boats’
Updated 04 October 2022

UK interior minister vows to stop migrant ‘small boats’

UK interior minister vows to stop migrant ‘small boats’
  • Irregular migration is a thorny political issue for the UK government
  • Deportation flights have been stymied by a series of legal challenges in the UK courts and at the European Court of Human Rights

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom: Britain’s new interior minister on Tuesday vowed to prevent migrants from claiming asylum if they arrive through an “illegal” route, and stop small boat crossings across the Channel from France.
Suella Braverman said the situation, in which criminal gangs were exploiting vulnerable migrants, had “gone on for far too long.”
Irregular migration is a thorny political issue for the UK government, which promised to tighten borders after the country left the European Union.
But a partnership deal with Rwanda signed earlier this year under the premiership of Boris Johnson to send some migrants to the African country for resettlement has so far failed.
Deportation flights have been stymied by a series of legal challenges in the UK courts and at the European Court of Human Rights.
Braverman said Britain needed to “find a way to make the Rwanda scheme work” and denounced the intervention of the ECHR, describing it as a “closed process with an unnamed judge and without any representation by the UK.”
“I will commit to look to bring forward legislation that the only route to the United Kingdom is through a safe and legal route,” she told the ruling Conservative party’s annual conference.
“If you deliberately enter the United Kingdom from a safe country you should be swiftly removed to your home country or relocated to Rwanda. That is where your asylum claim will be considered,” she said.
Reacting to Braverman’s speech, the PCS trade union which represents civil servants responsible for implementing the policy, said she did not “appear to understand the UK’s international obligations under the Geneva Convention.”
“Time and again we have called upon the government to use the expertise of our members in the Home Office to develop a solution to this crisis through safe passage,” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said.
“Instead, it chooses to continually demonize refugees to deflect from its hopeless inability to address the cost of living crisis facing the people of this country.”
Official government figures last month showed more migrants had crossed the Channel to the UK from northern France so far this year than in the whole of 2021, when 28,526 made the journey.
More than 33,500 people have now arrived in Britain.
Braverman’s speech played into Prime Minister Liz Truss’s right-wing agenda, urging police to stop “virtue signalling” on issues such as race and gender.
She promised to empower officers to stop “the mob” of direct-action protesters who use “guerilla tactics” to bring “chaos and misery” to the public.
“Whether you’re Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain or Extinction Rebellion, you cross a line when you break the law and that’s why we’ll keep putting you behind bars,” she added.
On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police said it had arrested 54 Just Stop Oil protesters on suspicion of “wilful obstruction of the highway” after a demonstration blocked traffic in central London.