China urges Pentagon to open up about ‘biolabs’ in Ukraine
China’s foreign ministry has called on the US to disclose information on the Pentagon’s alleged biological laboratories in Ukraine “as soon as possible”.
On Monday, the Russian military said Ukrainian authorities had been destroying pathogens studied at its laboratories. Moscow claimed that 30 US-financed Ukrainian biolabs have been actively cooperating with the American military.
Kiev has denied developing bioweapons. According to the website of the US embassy in Kiev, the US Department of Defense’s Biological Threat Reduction Program only “collaborates with partner countries to counter the threat of outbreaks” of infectious diseases. In 2020, the embassy called such theories about US-funded biolabs in Ukraine "disinformation."
Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, however, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claimed that, according to his country’s information, the laboratories in Ukraine are just “a tip of an iceberg” and that the US Department of Defense “controls 336 biological laboratories in 30 countries around the world.” This is done under the pretext of “cooperating to reduce biosecurity risks” and “strengthening global public health,” Zhao said.
It is the first time that Beijing has disclosed the alleged figure. Zhao said that according to data “released by the United States itself,” there are 26 US laboratories in Ukraine. In light of Russia’s military offensive in the country, he urged “all parties concerned” to ensure the safety of the labs.
“In particular, the United States, as the party which knows these laboratories best, should publish the relevant details as soon as possible, including which viruses are stored and which research has been carried out,” he said.
He claimed the US “has been exclusively obstructing” the establishment of an independent verification mechanism. Such behavior, Zhao said, “further aggravates the concerns of the international community.”
According to a report in The Rio Times, the US embassy in Ukraine deleted all information about Pentagon-financed bio-labs in the country from its website on February 26. However, journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva claimed embassy staff forgot to remove a document showing that the Pentagon is funding two new biolabs in Kiev and Odessa.
“Ukraine has no control over the military biolabs. The Ukrainian government is not allowed to release sensitive information about the program,” the Brazilian news outlet claimed.
Over the past 20 years, the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine, jointly established with the United States, invested over $285 million in about 1,850 projects carried out by scientists who, according to Gaytandzhieva, previously worked on the development of weapons of mass destruction.
US authorities are yet to comment on the latest claims.