Sat. May 28th, 2022

Russia’s recent disclosure about the U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine has sent jitters around the globe.

(news.cn)

Besides Ukraine, the United States has been funding secret biolabs in many countries around the world under its Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) that is part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, according to a fact sheet of the defense ministry published on March 11.

Since 2005, when the BTRP has partnered with the government of Ukraine, the United States has invested approximately $200 million in Ukraine, supporting 46 Ukrainian laboratories, health facilities and diagnostic sites.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that in addition to over 30 biolabs in Ukraine, the United States has created “hundreds of such laboratories” in other countries.

According to publicly available data, 336 laboratories in about 30 countries receive funding from the BTRP.

The research work conducted by these defense ministry-funded biolabs is highly classified.

Although U.S. officials have dismissed the questions about these biolabs as “disinformation” and “conspiracy theories,” there have been calls for Washington to comply with the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and make clarifications on related issues.

Alastair Hay, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Leeds in Britain, said: “the United States has been supporting various laboratories in the Ukraine through a post-Cold War program. As I understand it, these labs are generally involved in disease surveillance.”

“It is unclear why the United States needs to support this work and why, for example, it is not happening under WHO (World Health Organization) guidance,” said the professor.

Potential dangers

The United States claimed that it has funded biolabs in other countries to “contain biological threats.” And yet these labs turn out to be have been designed to store and deal with dangerous pathogens and toxins.

A 2012 report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said that some Ukrainian labs have been upgraded to the level needed to handle some of the more dangerous pathogens such as anthrax.

Some media reports noted that the U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine were set up to create a mechanism for the covert spread of lethal pathogens, which has raised fresh disquietude about potential pathogen leakage.

While explaining the history of the U.S. biolab program in Ukraine to The American Conservative, Jonathan Askonas, an assistant professor of politics at the Catholic University of America, said the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) increased its activities in peripheral countries of the former Soviet Union. Ukraine was particularly attractive as it has a lot of skilled STEM workers and had a U.S.-friendly government.

But former Democratic representative Tulsi Gabbard has been condemned as a “traitor” for tweeting that more than 25 “U.S.-funded bio labs” in Ukraine which, if breached, would release and spread “deadly pathogens.” She called for a ceasefire “now around these labs until they’re secured and pathogens destroyed.”

On Thursday, the World Health Organization advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens stored in the country’s labs to prevent “any potential spills.”

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