Moscow claims the individuals conducted research focused on testing and developing new deadly weapons.
Russian troops have obtained over 20,000 documents pertaining to American biological research programs in Ukraine since the start of Moscow’s military operation, the country’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
The most recent trove brought to light a number of key players in these projects who had previously “remained in the shadows,” according to the commander of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Forces, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov.
The ministry had previously published the names of people connected to the biolabs, which included representatives of the US Democratic Party, Defense Department officials, and Pentagon contractors.
The new list features people such as Karen Saylors, the executive director of Labyrinth Global Health, who reportedly worked in Ukraine as a lead consultant for a project that studied the spread of African swine fever.
Also on the list is Colin Johnson, a fellow at the University of Tennessee and director of the Institute for Host-Pathogen Systems, who allegedly studied the Crimean-Congo fever and hantaviruses in Ukraine and was in charge of collecting biological samples from Ukrainian military personnel.
The ministry provided the names of six more people believed to have also been involved in US bioresearch in Ukraine. Kirillov noted that all the evidence pertaining to these individuals will be handed over to Russia’s Investigative Committee, which will decide on the appropriate measures for the alleged perpetrators.
In his statement, Kirillov noted that Russia’s decisive actions in Ukraine have already effectively stopped Washington’s bioweapons research projects in the country. However, he cautioned that the US is now actively working to transfer the unfinished research to countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Last month, Russia submitted data on illegal US-backed laboratories in Ukraine to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons conference. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, that data included documentary evidence that work with components of biological weapons and studies of especially dangerous pathogens had been carried out in Ukraine with financial, scientific, technical and personnel support of the US. Washington has rejected Moscow’s accusations, calling them disinformation.
24 December 2022
Unfinished projects are being relocated to Central Asian and Eastern European countries, according to the Russian military
Washington has been moving its bioweapons research out of Ukraine, the head of Russia’s Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defense Troops has claimed. This comes after the research laboratories’ existence was exposed under the Trump presidency.
“The Pentagon is actively working to transfer its unfinished research projects to the countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe,” Igor Kirillov insisted during a briefing on Saturday.
The US has also been boosting cooperation with Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Kenya and other nations in the Indo-Pacific and Africa, with “the US Department of Defense being most interested in countries that already possess laboratories with a high level of bioсontainment,” he added.
According to the commander, data on illegal, US-backed laboratories in Ukraine was presented at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons conference, which took place in Geneva between November 28 and December 16.
It included “documentary evidence that work with components of biological weapons and studies of pathogens of especially dangerous and economically significant infections had been carried out on the territory of Ukraine with financial, scientific, technical and personnel support of the US,” he noted.
Papers obtained by Russia during its military operation in Ukraine reveal that “military-biological programs” were run through the Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute in Kiev, the Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Kharkov and the Lviv-based Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene, Kirillov claimed.
The files also mentioned three Pentagon contractors and seven high-ranking officials of the US Department of Defense, he added.
The full text of a report by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) on its work in Ukraine, seen by the Russian military, contained data, “confirming the conduct of exercises and training activities with pathogens of especially dangerous infections” in Ukraine, Kirillov said. When the Pentagon released this report to the public, 80% of its content had been redacted, he pointed out.
According to the Russian commander, the head of the American delegation at the conference declined to respond to Russia’s accusations of violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) by his country.
“Such a stance by the US and its blocking of any initiatives to resume work on the verification mechanism of the CWC once again confirms that Washington has something to hide, and that ensuring transparency in terms of compliance with the convention doesn’t play into the hands of the Americans,” he said.
However, the report by Russia didn’t go unnoticed by other countries and “made many member-states reflect on the risks posed by cooperation with Washington in the military-biological area,” Kirillov stressed.
The Russian military has been gradually releasing materials on the work of the US-backed biolabs in Ukraine since March. Washington has denied Mocsow’s bioweapons claims, calling them disinformation and a conspiracy theory used by Russia to justify its military operation.
3 November 2022
US biolab accidents going unreported – The Intercept
Some have reportedly involved deadly pathogens, and hundreds of cases have been kept from public view.
Directors of America’s biolabs have admitted to hundreds of dangerous accidents in the past two decades, but even incidents involving exposure to deadly viruses have been kept from public view, an investigation by The Intercept has revealed.
“People have it in their minds that lab accidents are very, very rare, and if they happen, they happen only in the least well-run overseas labs,” Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard Ebright told the media outlet. “That simply isn’t true.”
The erroneous public perception could stem from the fact that, as The Intercept found, Americans don’t hear about US biolab accidents. The outlet obtained more than 5,500 pages of laboratory incident reports from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), compelling the agency to release the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Many lab mishaps are reported to the NIH, the world’s largest funder of biomedical research, but the agency doesn’t pass on the information to the public, even in cases involving Level 3 and Level 4 biolabs.
One such incident occurred in 2016, when a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis accidentally pricked her finger with a needle after injecting a mouse with a recombinant strain of the Chikungunya virus, The Intercept said. The student didn’t tell her supervisor about the accident until after becoming ill and seeking treatment at a local hospital emergency room.
The university disclosed the accident and infection to the NIH, where the report was kept under wraps until The Intercept came calling six years later.
“That’s not a good situation,” said Scott Weaver, a University of Texas immunologist and expert on Chikungunya. “If that person knew they had a needlestick and they were working with Chikungunya, they should have reported it immediately. And then whatever health care people saw them should have recognized that there was a very small — but not zero — risk of them transmitting the virus.”
Chikungunya, which was first identified in Tanzania in the 1950s, is a debilitating and potentially deadly virus that can lead to chronic arthritis. In the local Makonde language, its name means “bent over in pain.” Outbreaks of the virus were reported in Italy and the US between 2007 and 2017.
The Intercept investigation found a wide range of other biolab accidents over a period spanning 18 years. For instance, in 2018, a US Food and Drug Administration researcher in Maryland contracted MRSA after working with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The University of North Carolina reported five escapes of lab mice in 2013 and 2014. At least one of the rodents had been infected with SARS.
The Washington University Chikungunya incident was among five needle injuries reported by the school, despite its lab being a Level 3 facility where researchers wear double layers of protective gear, including two pairs of gloves.
12 June 2022
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.
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.”