Let me also express our deepest condolences to the Irish Mission for the very sad passing of a dear colleague, Jim Kelly.
At the onset, thanks to the High Representative Nakamitsu, for your briefing.
We were called here today at the request of the Russian delegation to again discuss claims of a biological weapons programme in Ukraine.
Yet, we heard from the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs last week and it was repeated today, and I quote: “the United Nations is not aware of any biological weapons programmes in Ukraine”.
Russia has failed to offer any credible evidence for its claims, providing us instead with unsubstantiated information, allegations, and interpretations.
We have trouble understanding the rationale behind the last-minute call to have further discussions today. We find it unacceptable that Russia continues to repeat its unsupported claim that Ukraine is preparing to use biological weapons. It is becoming quite clear that this is just another smoke-screen tactic to draw attention away from Russia’s role as aggressor in this illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Norway remains a firm supporter of the Biological Weapons Convention and we are determined – together with partners in the international community – to uphold a total ban against biological weapons. Norway condemns any use of such weapons. They cannot, and must not, be used under any circumstances. This would constitute a clear violation of International Law.
We deeply regret that Russia, by calling these meetings, seeks to undermine this Council, and its vital role in peace diplomacy.
Exactly eight years ago, we were shocked by Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. And now, Russia is waging an unlawful war against another UN Member State with devastating humanitarian consequences.
The sole responsibility for the war falls on Russia.
Russia must end it now.