There had been a lot of speculations on social media that Russian strikes on Ukrainian military installations could also include the United States' bio-labs in the region. The Russian government has, for years, accused the U.S. of developing bioweapons near its borders
The theory was put forth Thursday, February 24, by a Twitter user whose account was immediately suspended. In his thread, the Twitter user indicated that there are several U.S. bio-labs in Ukraine under the auspices of the Department of State
's Biological Threat Reduction Program, which is an initiative where the U.S. partners with other countries to "counter the threat of outbreaks (deliberate, accidental or natural) of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases."
The Ukrainian U.S. Embassy website also states that the priorities of the Biological Threat Reduction program are to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern, and to continue to ensure that Ukraine can detect and report outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose security or stability threats.
This program also supposedly led to the creation of two bio-labs in Kyiv and Odessa in 2019 – areas that were attacked by Russia. A map circulating online showed that U.S.-backed bio-labs are also located in Vinnytsia, Uzhgorod, Lviv, Kherson, Ternopil and near Crimea and Luhansk. Another map showed the areas that were recently attacked by the Russian forces – many of which are cities where the U.S. bio-labs are believed to operate.
Russia has already raised concerns over the prospect of the U.S. developing biological weapons along its border. Russian Federation's Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev claimed that last year, there were clear signs that dangerous pathogens at the labs could be used for military or political purposes. (Related: Russia warns Ukraine of full-scale conflict along the country's eastern border
Last July, Patrushev also said more and more new biological laboratories under the control of the United States are growing by leaps and bounds, mainly in the Russian and Chinese borders.
"We are told that peaceful sanitation stations operate near our borders, but for some reason, they are more reminiscent of Fort Detrick in Maryland, where Americans have been working in the field of military biology for decades," Patrushev said. "By the way, we should pay attention to the fact that outbreaks of diseases that are not typical for these regions are recorded in the surrounding areas."
When asked whether or not he believed the U.S. to be developing bioweapons at the labs,
he said they had good reason to believe that it is the case. "Not a day goes by at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague that the Americans and their allies do not come forward with another chapter of the anti-Russian chemical dossier," he said.
China and Russia already jointly called on the United Nations to monitor the possible development of bioweapons by the U.S., stating that rapid advances in the field of science and technology with dual-use capabilities increased the risk of biological agents being used as weapons. (Related: Latest development on Russia's attack on Ukraine and reports from Kiev: Tanks roll in from Belarus, airports and sea ports seized by Russian troops, military targets obliterated with precision missile strikes
False accusations by Russian propagandists?
Since 2018, Russian propagandists have been spreading lies that the U.S. is operating secret bio-labs in Ukraine. In May 2020, the Security Service of Ukraine released a statement calling on politicians to stop the spread of information about the existence of foreign military labs in Ukraine
"Recently, 'fake news' about the alleged activities of American military biological laboratories in Ukraine has been spread in the media and social networks … No foreign biological laboratories operate in Ukraine. Statements recently made by individual politicians are not true and are a deliberate distortion of the facts," the statement said.
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