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    What's Cooking? The Alarming Rise of US Bio-Defense Labs on Russia's Borders

    © AFP 2019 / KHALIL MAZRAAWI
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    Concern in Russia is increasing over the growing number of hard-to-access, double-purpose medical laboratories, financed by the US Department of Defense, appearing alongside its borders; they are researching biological weapons, indicating that they are "not entirely peaceful".

    The US is constantly citing Russia as a "major threat" not only to itself but to its "European allies." Washington has been using this as a pretext for the deployment of additional contingents of NATO troops alongside Russia's borders.

    However, it seems this is not the only "preventive measure" which is being set up on the Russian frontiers.

    Earlier in September, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reminded that Washington opposes the idea of tightening international control over biological weapons.

    During his yearly address to future diplomats at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Russia's top diplomat said that America's staunch opposition to Russian efforts to create a monitoring mechanism for the execution of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) indicates that the US may be conducting biological research that is "not entirely peaceful."

    Sergei Lavrov then said that Russia is developing a supervisory mechanism for the observance of the BTWC, stressing that most countries support this move while the US actively opposes it.

    "It is known that the US has a number of projects in the field of biological research, particularly some joint research programs with our neighboring countries," Lavrov said.

    Similar concerns were voiced back in 2015 by Secretary of Russia's Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, who said that the military biological infrastructure overseen by Washington is being set up increasingly closer to Russian borders.

    Patrushev noted at a Security Council meeting that the number of such facilities has grown alarmingly.

    "The number of laboratories which are being controlled and managed by the US has increased twentyfold, many of them have either functioned or currently function on the territories of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries," he said, adding that the US is pouring tens of millions of dollars into military-focused biological weapons.

    Also back in 2015, Russia's Foreign Ministry specified that one such facility is the US Richard G. Lugar Public Health Research Center in Tbilisi, which is actually a high level biological research laboratory overseen by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

    National Center of Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), Tbilisi
    © Wikipedia / Q9k2C6J3
    National Center of Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), Tbilisi

    Even though it was once announced that "the government in Georgia has decided to change the ownership of the Richard G Lugar Public Health Research Center in Tbilisi" and to "hand it over to the National Center of Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), a space has been allocated for US Centers for Disease Control, the so-called Walter Reed’s Scientific Research Institute, and US and European universities."

    Another facility is the Central Reference Laboratory near Almaty, Kazakhstan, which is set to become operational this month under the Cooperative Biological Engagement Program led by the US Department of Defense.

    "The $103 million laboratory is set to house highly secure Biosafety Level 2 and 3 research areas containing state-of-the-art molecular diagnostic and research equipment for the study of contagious animal and human diseases," according to information provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

    The facility has the same very sponsor as the Georgian one, Sen. Richard Lugar.

    There is another smaller US-controlled lab at a military base in the town of Otar in western Kazakhstan on the Caspian Sea.

    Similar facilities have been planned for Kyrgyzstan, where Canada has almost finished setting up a high-security biological laboratory.

    "Canadian taxpayers sunk more than $6-million into the plan," The National Post website said back in 2014.

    However "the bloody, 2010 uprising toppled the repressive Kyrgyz regime that had signed the lab deal with Canada, and newly emboldened protesters soon alleged the facility was a disease-spreading "catastrophe" in the making, imposed in near-secrecy by unaccountable foreigners and local dictators."

    According to Infowars, the website of the American radio show host Alex Jones, "the US has created a National Biological Defense Program (NBD), which incorporates such countries as Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan."

    In 2013 in Ukraine alone, it says, the US created laboratories in Vinnytsia, Ternopil, Uzhhorod, Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Simferopol, Kherson, Lviv and Lugansk.

    An researcher at a pharmaceutical testing laboratory performs a test on a medicine in Kiev, 01 June 2007
    © AFP 2019 / GENIA SAVILOV
    An researcher at a pharmaceutical testing laboratory performs a test on a medicine in Kiev, 01 June 2007

    "In the Kharkiv region, a laboratory to study the behavior of very dangerous animal pathogens was built," the website says.

    "The American company Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. (Bv.com) is behind the project and is financed by the US Department of Defense."

    According to the data, the plant is located in the basement of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Veterinary Department (zoovet.kh.ua/en), all of its employees are foreigners, mostly Americans.

    Under the guise of laboratory tests, experiments based on the use of lethal pathogens on the battlefield are carried out there, the website says.

    As a result of the residents’ protests, a few years ago the bacteriological laboratory in Merefa was suspended.

    However, that changed after the entry of US troops on the territory of Ukraine. The planned laboratory is only about 70 meters from the nearby houses.

    In April 2011, a Central Reference Laboratory supported by the US Department of Defense Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) was inaugurated in Azerbaijan.

    The website notes that the observers are concerned about the secrecy of works on the creation of such institutions and about the fact that it is the Pentagon – and not a civilian agency – which is heading the project.

    Certain fears are also associated with the need for construction of large storage facilities for pathogens that are required in the laboratory under the contract.

    Similar concerns are being raised by PolitRussia online news website, which also adds that the cost of such projects usually exceeds the cost of similar civilian facilities.

    Besides, there are usually far more employees than at civilian facilities. Those are usually closed projects with no access to representative of the public health service.

    The website also wonders where the need arises to open up facilities such as these on territories with a stable epidemiologic situation rather than in African or South Asian countries which experience frequent epidemiologic outbursts.

    It further refers to one of the statements of the now defunct US think tank, the Project for the New American Century, which once claimed that the advanced types of the biological weapons which can effect certain genotypes could well serve as a "politically useful tool."

    Fortunately, the think tank ceased to exist back in 2006, however its principles still seem to be in use with US politicians.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    Biological Weapons Convention, biological weapon, laboratory, US Department of Defense (DoD), Commonwealth of Independent States, Pentagon, Sergei Lavrov, Kazakhstan, United States, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia
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