Plague and Typhus: What Have American Scientists Been Up to in Ukraine’s Biolabs?
18:23 GMT 17.04.2022 (Updated: 18:32 GMT 17.04.2022)
© Flickr / Francisco Javier Argel
The Russian Ministry of Defence has revealed the names of more of the individuals involved in the operation of the US-funded biolabs in Ukraine. Among them is a former Pentagon researcher tasked with studying the USSR’s nuclear arsenal. According to the Russian military, Pentagon plans included infecting the entire region with typhus and hepatitis.
Typhoid Rivers and Experiments on Human Beings
“Earlier, we presented a chart explaining the coordination of work at the biological laboratories and research institutes in Ukraine by the United States. One of its components was the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU) – an institution which appears, at first glance, to be a privately-owned organization that has nothing to do with the Pentagon,” Igor Kirillov, the head of Russia’s Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Troops, said in a briefing on Thursday.
In fact, the Russian military revealed, this institution has been directly involved in the creation of biological weaponry.
Formally, the STCU is an international intergovernmental organization created, in its own words, to “address the global security threat of the proliferation of WMD-applicable chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear knowledge and materials.” Its real purpose, the MoD says, includes the distribution of grants for the development of biological weapons agents.
The STCU has offices in Baku, Azerbaijan, Chisinau, Moldova, Tbilisi, Georgia, and Kharkov and Lvov in Ukraine, and is headquartered in Kiev.
Scientists’ work included the collection of water samples from Ukraine’s major rivers – the Dnieper, the Danube, the Dniester, as well as the North Crimean Canal, in a search for causative agents of cholera, typhoid fever, and hepatitis A and E.
Studying documents, the Russian military discovered that US and European researchers were actually seeking to spread these diseases by water, not just to Russia, but Belarus, Moldova and Poland, and to poison the entire marine ecosystems of the Black and Azov Seas.
© Photo : Russian Ministry of DefenceImage: Screengrab of Russian MoD briefing showing the STCU’s financing scheme, which included $31 million for the period 2022-2024.
Image: Screengrab of Russian MoD briefing showing the STCU’s financing scheme, which included $31 million for the period 2022-2024.
© Photo : Russian Ministry of Defence
Furthermore, the STCU was shown to be involved in experiments on human beings. Recovered documents showed that during the period between 2019 and 2021, scientists searched for test subjects from wards at Clinical Psychiatric Hospital #3 in the city of Merefa in Kharkov region.
“People with mental disorders were selected for experiments on the basis of age, ethnic group, and immune status. Special forms documented round-the-clock monitoring of the condition of patients at all times. The information was not entered into the hospital’s database, staff of the medical institution signed a non-disclosure agreement,” Kirillov said.
This laboratory’s operations were interrupted only in January 2022, when equipment and specimens were taken by STCU staff to western Ukraine, according to the officer.
“In recent years, Washington has spent more than $350 million on the implementation of STCU projects. Clients and sponsors include the State Department and the Pentagon. Financing has also been provided through the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Department of Energy,” Kirillov said.
15 April 2022, 13:50 GMT
Long Reach of the State Department and Pentagon
The Russian military operation in Ukraine made discovering the identities of individuals involved in the STCU’s experiments possible.
The post of executive director of the STCU is occupied by Curtis Michael Bjelajac, a US national born in California on 27 August 1968, who studied at the University of California, holds a master’s degree in international finance and has been working in Ukraine since 1994.
The chairman of the STCU’s board is one Eddie Arthur Maier. The center’s activities are supervised by Phillip Dolliff, a deputy assistant secretary for nonproliferation programmes at the US State Department’s bureau of international security and nonproliferation. His term expired on 31 March, but information about his career remains up on the State Department’s website.
Before joining the State Department, Dolliff was tasked with analyzing Soviet strategic nuclear forces for the Department of Defense. Before that, he was said to have worked on a number of other projects, including the US Strategic Defense Initiative, and programmes aimed ostensibly aimed to reduce the threats posed by North Korea and terrorist groups.
The Russian MoD has presented a recommendation from the State Department approving cooperation between the STCU and Pentagon contractor Black & Veatch. Black & Veatch vice president Matthew Webber expressed readiness to conduct work with the institution within the framework of US military-biological research in Ukraine.
According to Kirillov, the institute’s US curators were interested more than anything in dual-use research, such as Project 6166 - studying technologies for the ‘modeling, evaluation and prediction of the impact of conflicts and threats on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction’, as well as Project 9601 on the ‘transfer of Ukrainian technologies on the production of complex dual-use materials to the European Union’.
The goals of these projects included research on the plague virus, tularemia, the bird flu and African swine fever.
31 March 2022, 19:47 GMT
Threat is Real
“The US’s military biological bases are a real threat. If we do not close them, this will remain a permanent military capability of the United States” near Russia, Gennady Onishchenko, the former Russian chief sanitary inspector, said.
Onishchenko pointed out that such bases began to appear in former Soviet republics immediately after the collapse of the USSR. This includes very well-equipped facilities in Georgia and Kazakhstan which receive funding from the US defense budget. The doctor stressed that in many places, the Americans have acted absolutely out in the open and have not hidden the provision of funding to various institutions.
The US has also modernized several laboratories in Ukraine, under the pretext of ‘fighting infectious diseases’ and ‘preventing outbreaks and epidemics’, rather of their creation.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Pentagon was now seeking to cover up its secret programmes in Ukraine, including experiments with samples of the coronavirus, anthrax and other deadly diseases. “But we have every reason to believe that components of biological weapons were in fact created in the immediate vicinity of Russia on the territory of Ukraine,” he said.
The concern expressed by Russian authorities is centered around the fact that US legislation continues to retain norms which allow for biological weapons research to be carried out. “The ratification of the Geneva Protocol in 1925 by the United States was accompanied by a number of reservations, one of which allowed for the retaliatory use of chemical or toxic weapons,” Kirillov said in his briefing.
Moscow, for its part, has been working to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 for many years, but Washington has sought to block this process. Perhaps progress will become possible as the Russian military releases more information on US military-biological activities in Ukraine.
By Elena Popova