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World Health Organization tells Ukraine to destroy dangerous pathogens to prevent 'potential spills' of disease from labs

  The World Health Organization advised Ukrainian officials to destroy dangerous pathogens stored in laboratories across the war-torn countr...

 The World Health Organization advised Ukrainian officials to destroy dangerous pathogens stored in laboratories across the war-torn country to prevent a potential outbreak of disease, Reuters reported. Due to the Russian invasion, the WHO recommended public health labs protect against "any potential spills" in Ukraine that could lead to disease spreading to the general population.

"Biosecurity experts say Russia's movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged," Reuters reported on Thursday.

The report noted that Ukraine has "public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19." Reuters added that the Ukrainian labs have "received support from the United States, the European Union, and the WHO."

The WHO informed the outlet that it had collaborated with Ukrainian public health labs for several years to promote security practices that help 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 Reuters in an email.

The WHO did not reveal when it made the recommendation to Ukrainian officials. The health agency also did not provide specifics as to what kinds of pathogens are housed in Ukraine's labs. The WHO also did not divulge whether or not Ukrainian health officials were heeding the advice to destroy the dangerous pathogens.

Reuters did not receive a response from Ukrainian officials regarding requests for comment on the WHO guidance.

On Wednesday, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova reiterated a long-standing allegation that the United States operates biowarfare laboratories in Ukraine. Washington and Kyiv have both denied the accusations.

"We can already conclude that in Ukrainian biological laboratories in direct proximity to the territory of our country, development of components of biological weapons was being carried out," Zakharova claimed.

Reuters reported, "Zakharova said Russia had documents showing that the Ukrainian health ministry had ordered the destruction of samples of plague, cholera, anthrax, and other pathogens after Feb. 24."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby dismissed the accusations on Wednesday.

"The Russian accusations are absurd, they are laughable and you know, in the words of my Irish Catholic grandfather, a bunch of malarkey. There's nothing to it. It's classic Russian propaganda," Kirby said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the accusations as "conspiracy theories."

"This is preposterous. It’s the kind of disinformation operation we’ve seen repeatedly from the Russians over the years in Ukraine and in other countries, which have been debunked, and an example of the types of false pretexts we have been warning the Russians would invent," Psaki tweeted on Wednesday.

"The United States is in full compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention and does not develop or possess such weapons anywhere," she continued.

"This is all an obvious ploy by Russia to try to try to justify its further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine," Psaki said. "Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern."

A Ukrainian presidential spokesperson proclaimed, "Ukraine strictly denies any such allegation."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded, "That worries me very much because we have often been convinced that if you want to know Russia’s plans, they are what Russia accuses others of."

"I am a reasonable person. The president of a reasonable country and reasonable people. I am the father of two children," Zelenskyy added. "And no chemical or any other weapon of mass destruction has been developed on my land. The whole world knows this."

The United Nations Security Council scheduled a meeting for Friday to discuss Russia's allegations of "military biological activities of the U.S. on the territory of Ukraine," according to ABC News.

Olivia Dalton – spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations – called the claims "disinformation."

"This is exactly the kind of false flag effort we have warned Russia might initiate to justify a biological or chemical weapons attack," Dalton said on Thursday. "We’re not going to let Russia gaslight the world or use the U.N. Security Council as a venue for promoting their disinformation."

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