Moscow: US-funded Biolabs in Ukraine Engaged in Development of Components for Biological Weapons
09:47 GMT 09.03.2022 (Updated: 10:57 GMT 09.03.2022)
© AFP 2022 / Paul J. RichardsA member of the US Army Technical Escort Unit (TSU) demonstrates a hazmat suit as they show some of their response capabilities to chemical and biologicial operations in support of the US Department of Defense, federal, state, and local agencies 12 November 2002
In a series of disclosures Sunday and Monday, the Russian military revealed that the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency has been involved in the operation of more than 30 biological laboratories across Ukraine, and that these labs have engaged in the storage of and research into a number of deadly agents.
Ukrainian biolabs near Russia's borders engaged in the development of components for biological weapons, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.
"In the past several days, long-standing fears which we have expressed repeatedly for years regarding the development of military biological materials by the United States on the territory of Ukraine under the auspices of the relevant US special services have been confirmed," Zakharova said in a briefing Wednesday.
"This has been confirmed based not only on those materials and data which were obtained operationally on the territory of Ukraine, not just based on the statements of the relevant agencies in Ukraine, but directly in Washington during a speech by US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland," Zakharova said.
The spokeswoman said the question of whether or not the biological weapons components being researched at these facilities have been destroyed or not remains to be answered, but pointed to the documents received from employees of biolabs showing that an order had been given 24 February to liquidate dangerous pathogens.
Zakharova emphasised that there is now no doubt about the military nature of the research taking place at these facilities, pointing to the Russian military's revelations on the labs' US Department of Defence funding, operations under the Pentagon's purview and the presence of US specialists instructing the Ukrainian side in conducting the relevant research.
Separately, in an interview with Radio Sputnik, Zakharova suggested that the Russian military's revelations about US-funded biolabs "completely changes the picture of US involvement in the fate of Ukraine."
"It is not just an instrument of influence, it's not just an an instrument of deterrence. Its an instrument of a direct threat to our country," Zakharova said.
In testimony before the Senate on Tuesday, Victoria Nuland admitted that Ukraine was home to biological research facilities, and told lawmakers that Washington was "quite concerned Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of" these facilities and the "research materials" contained therein.
"So we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach," Nuland said.
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov suggested Tuesday that US statements about Ukraine's biolabs was an indication of fears by Washington that the pathogens stored there may fall into the hands of Russian experts, and confirm the US's violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
The Russian Ministry of Defence published documents Sunday showing that Ukrainian Minister of Health Viktor Liashko ordered the destruction of a number of dangerous pathogens across Ukrainian biolab facilities, including anthrax, the plague, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases.
A day later, the MoD held a press briefing to reveal that a network of over 30 US-funded biolabs has been operating across Ukraine, with some of the facilities feared to be engaged in the production of chemical weapons, and others sending serum samples of "Slavic ethnicity" patients to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland under the pretext of testing for COVID-19 treatment methods, for reasons as yet unknown.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called on the United States to clarify the extent of its military biological activities across the globe, pointing out that the US Department of Defence controls some "336 biolabs across 30 countries under the pretext of joint work to reduce biosecurity risks and strengthening global health...What are America's real intentions? What exactly were they doing?" Zhao asked.
Russian security officials and the Foreign Ministry have spent years expressing serious concerns about the activities of US-funded biolabs in Ukraine and other post-Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Georgia.
29 May 2020, 18:26 GMT