On Monday, the Russian military revealed that the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency has been involved in the operation of over 30 biological laboratories across Ukraine, engaged in the storage and research into a variety of deadly agents.
China has called on the United States to clarify the extent of its military biological activities across the planet.
“We once again urge the US side to fully clarify its biological militariation activities at home and abroad,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Liijian told reporters in a briefing Tuesday.
The diplomat suggested that the information publicised by the Russian Defence Ministry Monday about US military biological activities in Ukraine could be just the “tip of the iceberg.”
“The US Department of Defense controls 336 biolabs across 30 countries under the pretext of joint work to reduce biosecurity risks and strengthening global health. You heard right – 336,” Zhao said. Washington has also unilaterally rejected international inspections of these facilities, including the Maryland-based Fort Detrick biolab, the spokesman added.
“What are America’s real intentions? What exactly were they doing?” the spokesman asked.
“For the sake of the health of the people of Ukraine, neighbouring regions and beyond, we call on relevant parties to ensure the safety of these laboratories. The United States, as the party with the most information about these facilities, should disclose the relevant data as soon as possible, including about the viruses held there and the nature of research into them,” Zhao stressed.
Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops revealed Monday the existence of a network of over 30 biological laboratories across Ukraine being run by the US military, with some these facilities feared to have engaged in the production of chemical weapons.
In a briefing, NBC Troops commander Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov said that the United States spent over $200 million on the programme, which is divided into monitoring, research and sanitary-epidemiological work, including the study of potential biological weapons agents with natural foci that can be transmitted to human beings. The work has reportedly taken place under the purview of the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency, with private contractor Black & Veatch tasked with helping to implement projects.
Citing concrete examples, Kirillov reported on the existence of labs in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv working on infectious agents including plague, anthrax and brucellosis, and labs in the eastern cities of Kharkov and Poltava working with diphtheria, salmonellosis and dysentery. Between 2020 and 2021, he said, the Pentagon spent $11.8 million on a project known as “Diagnostics, Surveillance and Prevention of Zoonotic Diseases in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” During the same period, the German Defence Ministry was said to have conducted research into Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic disease pathogens, leptospirosis, meningitis, and hantaviruses in Ukraine within the framework of a German-sponsored initiative to ‘ensure the biological security’ of countries bordering the European Union.
Additionally, the commander said that thousands of serum samples primarily of “Slavic ethnicity” patients had been sent from Ukrainian labs to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland under the pretext of testing for COVID-19 treatment methods.
On Sunday, the Russian military publicised documents obtained from biolabs from Poltava and Kharkov of instructions by Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko instructing lab workers to destroy a broad range of pathogens including anthrax, plague, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases.
US Biolabs in Ukraine
The United States has been engaged in the construction, modernisation, operation and funding of biolabs on Ukrainian territory since at least 2005. In 2020, Ukrainian opposition lawmakers asked the government to conduct a probe into these facilities, citing a series of inexplicable outbreaks of dangerous diseases between 2009 and 2017. Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the lawmakers demanding the probe, alleged at the time that the creation of a Level 3 lab storing human pathogens may have been an indication of US plans for experimentation on people. The US dismissed these allegations, and Medvedchuk was put under house arrest in 2021, supposedly over an unrelated matter, and accused of “high treason.” The lawmaker reportedly escaped confinement after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in late February.