On Wednesday, the United States imposed sanctions on five Russian institutes, accusing them of developing chemical and biological weapons. The list of the institutes includes the 48th Central Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Defence Ministry, which has developed the first COVID-19 vaccine together with the Gamaleya Research Institute.
“We certainly paid attention to the mentioned announcement of the US authorities. It seems confusing to us. Especially since no evidence were presented. Familiar vague terms are used such as 'there is а reasonable cause to believe',” Antonov told reporters on late Wednesday, as quoted by the embassy’s Facebook page.
“Furthermore, the fact was ignored that Russia’s full compliance with the respective Convention’s obligations regarding destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles elimination was confirmed by the international community in 2017 represented by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). We would like to receive some clarifications from our colleagues regarding this groundless allegations,” the ambassador added.
Antonov argued that, at the present, the US remains “the only possessor of the significant stockpiles of chemical warfare agents and delays its elimination under various pretexts”, calling on the administration of US President Donald Trump “to stop searching problems where they do not exist”.
“We call upon the U.S. side to stop searching problems where they do not exist and do their best to achieve chemical demilitarization as soon as possible,” the Russian envoy said.
Besides the 48th Central Scientific Research Institute, the US has sanctioned the Russian Defence Ministry's 33rd Central Research and Testing Institute and the State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology.
Listing by the US Department of Commerce means that the US authorities impose restrictions on the export, re-export and transfer of goods in accordance with the existing regulations to individuals and organisations that are deemed to pose risks to US national security and foreign policy interests.
On 11 August, the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Defence Ministry and officially registered by the Russian government as the world's first vaccine against the COVID-19 infection. On Tuesday, the Gamaleya research centre received permission to conduct post-registration clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine.
Western countries and mainstream media rushed to claim that the vaccine was unsafe and ineffective, despite the fact that the Russian Ministry of Health stated that Sputnik V had undergone all the necessary checks and had been proven to be capable of building immunity against the virus.
In response, Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that all the foreign criticism was provoked by the fear of fair competition and slammed the accusations as unfounded.