In a recent document, the Pentagon admitted to running 46 biolabs in Ukraine but says they are peaceful efforts to improve nuclear and radiological safety and security, disease surveillance, chemical safety and security, and readiness to respond to epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19.
In a document titled ‘Fact Sheet on WMD Threat Reduction Efforts,’ the US Department of Defense for the first time revealed the specific number of such facilities its government has sponsored in Ukraine.
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.”
The Pentagon insisted that the work of these biolabs was “often” carried out in collaboration with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and that it was “consistent with international best practices and norms in publishing research results, partnering with international colleagues and multilateral organizations, and widely distributing their research and public health findings.”
Only three laboratories in Ukraine had the required safety criteria to undertake the type of research they were doing, according to the Russian military last month. Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, the head of the Radioactive, Chemical, and Biological Protection Forces, referenced Ukrainian government sources to point to a series of problems at one of those sites in Odessa, as an example.
The Russian military has given evidence of the Pentagon’s role in funding laboratories in Ukraine in a series of briefings that began in March. Kirillov accused Kiev of carrying out “inhumane experiments” on Ukrainian patients and of launching a biological attack against the breakaway territory of Lugansk in early May. Other evidence suggests that when Russia moved soldiers into Ukraine in February, attempts were made to weaponize drones to spread pathogens and to destroy compromising materials.
Between 2005 and early 2022, the US poured more than $224 million into biological research in Ukraine, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee. According to Moscow, the conspiracy involved Western pharmaceutical giants, organizations, and even the Democratic Party of the United States.
The US has “full approval” from the Russian government to employ “tthousands of former Russian biological weapons scientists to conduct peaceful biological research projects for public health purposes,” according to the Pentagon.
The US military states elsewhere in the document that it is attempting to provide “sustainable civilian employment” for scientists with “weapons-related knowledge” in order to “remove incentives to seek or accept of terrorist or other state actor employment and financing.”
The Pentagon stated that the United States’ involvement with biological laboratories in Ukraine “remain peaceful efforts to improve nuclear and radiological safety and security, disease surveillance, chemical safety and security, and readiness to respond to epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, it accused Russia of attempting to “undermine that work by spreading disinformation and sowing mistrust in the people and institutions all over the world that contribute to the reduction of WMD threat” with the support of China.
In response to Russian briefings, China has demanded that the US explain its actions in a “fair, objective, and professional” manner.
Ukraine “has no nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs,” according to the Pentagon, and the limited amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU) that remains at research centers in Kiev and Kharkov “is well below the amount needed to produce a nuclear device.”