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12 Jun, 2022 14:43

Russia accuses US of concealing data on biolabs

Attempts to “divert attention” raise questions regarding the Pentagon’s biological activity, the Russian Foreign Ministry said
Russia accuses US of concealing data on biolabs

The US has been concealing information about its “military biological activity” in the post-Soviet states, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday. This, according to Zakharova, raises “serious questions” about Washington’s compliance with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).

In an interview with TASS published on Sunday, Zakharova said, “the United States prefers to remain silent about the ongoing work in the post-Soviet space and does not provide information within a framework of the BTWC confidence-building measures.”

“Assertions that the activity of the Pentagon and related structures is focused solely on health issues are not true. Clearly, health care assistance does not require the involvement of the US military,” Zakharova said.

She added that Washington’s claims that it is collecting biomaterial and monitoring the epidemiological situation “only reinforce and intensify” Russia’s fears over America’s compliance with the BTWC.

Moscow’s recently published evidence regarding the alleged sprawling network of US-funded biolabs across Ukraine only adds to the suspicions, Zakharova said.

In a series of briefings starting in March, the Russian military has presented evidence of the Pentagon’s involvement in funding laboratories in Ukraine. According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the US poured more than $224 million into biological research in Ukraine between 2005 and early 2022. Western pharmaceutical giants, nonprofits, and even the US Democratic Party were involved in the scheme, Moscow claims.

The Pentagon has “significantly expanded its research potential not only in the field of creating biological weapons, but also obtaining information about antibiotic resistance and the presence of antibodies to certain diseases in populations of specific regions” while working in Ukraine, Lieutenant-General Igor Kirillov, the head of the Russian Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Force, said in May.

Zakharova also pointed out that the US has not yet withdrawn its reservation to the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the prohibition of biological and chemical weapons. The US was among the countries that declared the protocol would cease to be binding regarding enemy states that do not observe the prohibitions of the protocol.

In this regard, “the question quite reasonably arises about the real goals of the Pentagon’s international military biological activity,” Zakharova said.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon published the ‘Fact Sheet on WMD Threat Reduction Efforts with Ukraine, Russia and Other Former Soviet Union Countries’. In the document, the US military said that following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US and its partners have led “cooperative efforts to reduce legacy threats from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons left in the Soviet Union’s successor states, including Russia.”

According to the Pentagon, the US has “worked collaboratively to improve Ukraine’s biological safety, security, and disease surveillance for both human and animal health,” by providing support to “46 peaceful Ukrainian laboratories, health facilities, and disease diagnostic sites over the last two decades.” These programs have focused on “improving public health and agricultural safety measures at the nexus of nonproliferation.”

In the same paper, the US military accused Russia and China attempting “to undermine this work by spreading disinformation and sowing mistrust in the people and institutions all over the world that contribute to WMD threat reduction.”

According to Zakharova, Moscow considers this publication part of Washington’s “information campaign” aimed at justifying its military biological activities in the post-Soviet space and to “divert the attention of the international community from its true non-transparent and unseemly direction.”