Ilya Tsukonov, March 6th 2022
The US Defence Threat Reduction Agency has been working in Ukraine since 2005, and been involved in the construction, modernization and operation of over a dozen biolabs suitable for storing or working with pathogens, including those used in bioweapons. Moscow has expressed deep concerns about these facilities in recent years.
Ukrainian authorities have been instructed to scrub clean evidence related to the operation of a Pentagon-funded biological warfare programme in Ukraine, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov has said.
“To prevent the disclosure of facts of violations by the United States and Ukraine of Article 1 of the Biological Weapons Convention, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health sent instructions to all biological laboratories to urgently eliminate stored stocks of dangerous pathogens,” Konashenkov said in a briefing Sunday.
The military spokesman accompanied his remarks with excerpts of documents provided by employees of Ukrainian biolabs regarding a 24 February letter by Ukrainian Minister of Health Viktor Liashko ordering the destruction of pathogens including anthrax, the plague, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases.
“The documents confirm that the development of biological weapons components were carried out in Ukrainian biolaboratories in close proximity to Russian territory,” Konashenkov said.
“Obviously, with the start of the [Russian] special military operation [in Ukraine], the Pentagon has been given cause for serious concerns about the disclosures of the secret biological experiments being carried out on Ukrainian territory. In the near future, we will present the results of an analysis of the documents received,” the spokesman promised.
“Some of those – specifically the instructions of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine on the destruction of pathogens and the acts of destruction at biolabs in Poltava and Kharkov, we are publishing right now,” he said, referring to the documents released.
US and Ukrainian officials have not commented on the Russian MoD’s allegations.
US Biowarfare Programme in Ukraine
The United States has been engaged in the construction, modernization and operation of Ukrainian biological laboratories since at least 2005.
In April 2020, lawmakers from Ukraine’s Opposition Platform – For Life party requested a government probe into the operation of American biolabs in Ukraine, alleging that since their deployment, Ukraine has faced otherwise inexplicable outbreaks of dangerous diseases, such as the 2009 outbreak of hemorrhagic pneumonia, cholera outbreaks in 2011, 2014 and 2015, and an outbreak of hepatitis A in 2017. In early 2016, at least 20 Ukrainian servicemen died from a mysterious flu-like virus, with 364 more people succumbing to swine flu months later.
The US Embassy in Kiev dismissed the probe request, accusing Opposition Platform – For Life of spreading “disinformation” and suggesting that the Pentagon-affiliated Biological Threat Reduction Programme was merely working “with the Ukrainian Government to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern in Ukrainian government facilities.” At the same time, the Embassy scrubbed information about the work of two of the aforementioned biolabs.
Opposition Platform – For Life co-leader Viktor Medvedchuk alleged that the creation of a US Level 3 lab storing human pathogens in Ukraine could have been an indication of US plans for experimentation on human beings. Medvedchuk was put under round-the-clock house arrest in May 2021 after being accused of “high treason.” The lawmaker reportedly escaped his confinement last week after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
Last year, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told a Russian newspaper that Moscow was aware of the creation of new US military biolabs near Russia and China, and that Russian authorities had reason to believe that biological weapons were being developed there.
“We have been assured that these are research centres where the Americans help local scientists to develop new ways to combat dangerous diseases. But in truth the authorities of those countries where these facilities are based have no idea what’s going on within their borders. Naturally, we and our Chinese partners have questions. We are told that the facilities operating near our borders are peaceful sanitary and epidemiological stations, but for some reason they are more reminiscent of Fort Detrick in Maryland, where the Americans have been working in the field of military biology for decades,” Patrushev said.
Along with Ukraine, the US has sponsored biological laboratories across a number of former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Georgia. In 2018, Igor Giorgadze, Georgia’s former minister of state security, asked then-US President Donald Trump to investigate reports that personnel from the Lugar Centre biological laboratory outside Tbilisi had experimented on people, and that some of these ‘human test subjects’ had died as a result of these activities.