Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Thursday dismissed claims by Russia that the U.S. is conducting biological weapons research in "biolabs" across Ukraine.
"We do not assess that Ukraine is pursuing either biological weapons or nuclear weapons," Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee during a hearing on worldwide threats.
"This influence campaign is consistent with long-standing Russian efforts to accuse the United States of sponsoring bioweapons research in the former Soviet Union. This is a classic move by the Russians."
Ukraine "operates a little over a dozen" biolabs for biodefense and public health reasons, she said.
Russian diplomat Dmitry Polyanskiy earlier Thursday requested the United Nations Security Council discuss the alleged research at a meeting Friday, Fox News reported.
Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland during a Senate hearing Tuesday said if there is a chemical or biological weapons incident in Ukraine, it will be the Russians' responsibility, and the U.S. is working to prevent Russia from capturing Ukraine's "biological research facilities."
When asked Thursday by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., why the State Department was concerned about the Russians "getting their hands" on these labs, Haines said: "Medical facilities that I have been in, even as a child in high school and college ... all have equipment or pathogens or other things that you have to have restrictions around because you want to make sure they're being treated and handled appropriately.
"I think that is the kind of thing that Victoria Nuland was describing and thinking about," she concluded.
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