Saturday, May 25

Interview of the Director of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control of the Russian Foreign Ministry V.I.Ermakov to the Interfax agency

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Question: Biolabs in Ukraine have been actively discussed in recent days. Why did they start talking about these facilities and the military-biological activities carried out on them with the support of the United States only now?

Answer: In fact, for many years we have regularly pointed out the threats to Russia’s national security posed by the military-biological activities of the United States and its allies along the perimeter of the Russian borders. The Ukrainian case is just one of the illustrative examples of the implementation of the relevant Pentagon program. This is one link in a network of more than 200 biolabs funded with the support of the US military and operating around the world.

The activity of Ukrainian biological laboratories (including units of the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine) is aimed at enhancing the pathogenic properties of pathogens of plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases using synthetic biology methods. The Office of the US Department of Defense for Reducing the military threat (Defense Threat Reduction Agency, DTRA) is working in Ukraine in three directions. First of all, this is the monitoring of the biological situation in the proposed areas of deployment of military contingents of NATO member states. The second is the collection and export to the USA of strains of dangerous microorganisms. The third direction is research work on the study of potential biological weapons agents specific to this region, which have natural foci and are capable of being transmitted to humans.

The materials available to us confirm that the development of components of biological weapons was carried out in Ukrainian biological laboratories in the immediate vicinity of the territory of Russia. We demand that Ukraine and the United States provide the necessary explanations. We do not exclude the possibility of using the mechanisms of articles V and VI of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), according to which the participating States should consult with each other in resolving any issues regarding the purpose of the Convention or in connection with the implementation of its provisions, as well as cooperate in conducting any investigations of possible violations of obligations under the BTWC.

It is clear that Kiev and its American curators tried in every possible way to hide from the world community, as well as the population of Ukraine itself, the real goals and dangers of such activities. The instructions of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine dated February 24 on the prompt elimination of stocks of dangerous pathogens stored at biological facilities only confirm the attempts of the Ukrainian authorities to clean up traces of their military biological activities.

There was no doubt that sooner or later everything secret would become clear. The poisonous “abscess” that had been brewing for years should have burst sometime. The special military operation in Ukraine has only highlighted to the general public what experts have already known for a long time.

Now the risks posed by the studies of US military doctors conducted with pathogens of deadly diseases on Ukrainian territory have become absolutely obvious. This situation looks particularly explosive in conditions when the Kiev authorities have not controlled the situation on their territory for a long time, and the risk of weapons-grade biomaterials falling into the hands of nationalist formations is constantly growing.

The work carried out in Ukraine in the interests of the US military department with dangerous pathogens has been the subject of close attention from radical nationalist groups from the very beginning. Evacuated biological objects are also at risk, there is a risk of theft of strains of pathogenic microorganisms for use for terrorist purposes or sale on the “black market”. This could be more dangerous than a “dirty” nuclear bomb, which has also been actively talked about in recent weeks. The extreme nervousness of officials from the US administration in connection with the discovery of their weapons bio-developments on the territory of Ukraine is also indicative here.

Question: On the basis of what do the representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Defense Ministry conclude that the United States is involved in the work in Ukrainian laboratories?

Answer: We know for certain that the employees involved in projects with dangerous pathogens in Ukraine were US citizens and had diplomatic immunity. Among them were experts on biological weapons.

The programs were funded directly through DTRA within the framework of the Pentagon-initiated project “Countering threats of particularly dangerous pathogens in Ukraine”, designed for the period up to 2024 (the main contractor is the American company CH2M Hill) and through the Ukrainian Science and Technology Center (Science and Technology Center in Ukraine). In total, over the past 10 years, more than $ 1.5 billion has been allocated for the implementation of bioprojects in Ukraine.

Ukrainian specialists could independently conduct biological research for military purposes at these facilities without the consent of the Americans. In particular, according to available information, the Pentagon is concerned about the situation around the biological laboratories at the Kiev State Research Institute for Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary and Sanitary Examination, as well as the Odessa division of the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety.

Question: What steps do you see to get out of this situation?

Answer: If we talk about the traditional legal field, in order to prevent military biological activities carried out contrary to the provisions of the BTWC, decisive measures are required to strengthen the BTWC regime. We emphasize the importance of resuming work on a legally binding Protocol to the Convention with an effective verification mechanism, which has been blocked by the United States since 2001. In this regard, we call for the creation of an open-ended working group within the framework of the BTWC, which meets the interests of the overwhelming majority of participating States.

In order to strengthen the organizational foundations of the Convention, we note the initiatives that enjoy broad international support for the creation of mobile biomedical detachments at the BTWC site (to provide assistance in the event of the use of biological weapons and to combat epidemics of various origins), as well as the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Committee (to analyze scientific and technical achievements and provide States with appropriate recommendations).

In addition, we propose to include in the reports submitted annually by the States parties to the Convention within the framework of confidence-building measures, information on military biological activities conducted abroad. This is especially true for such hyperactivity on the part of the United States.

Comprehensive steps in the legal field would make it possible to put the military-biological activity of the United States and its allies in the post-Soviet space, as in other regions of the world, under close international control and ensure verifiable compliance by the BTWC member states with their obligations.

At the same time, there are great doubts that Washington will show readiness for such traditional international legal agreements. Therefore, it is likely that other more stringent measures of influence will have to be sought.



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