From Strategic Stability
Report # 136. The USA and Ukraine violate BTWC
September 3, 2022
Briefing of the Chief of Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological Defence troops of the Russian Federation Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov (Moscow, September 3, 2022):
On the initiative of the Russian Federation, consultative meeting of the member States of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC) will be hosted in the upcoming week regarding non-compliance with the obligations of the USA and Ukraine within the abovementioned international treaty. The event will include presentation of documentary evidence of the violation of the articles I and IV within the convention on their part.
We want the organisations responsible for compliance with the Convention and the international community to pay their attention to various biological hazards.
First, there are currently over 50 Pentagon-controlled biological laboratories modernised with its funds and located in close proximity to the borders of the Russian Federation. In total, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, the U.S. Defence Department controls 336 biolaboratories in 30 countries.
Their activities are supplemented by deterioration of the epidemiological situation regarding to the most dangerous and economically significant infections, as well as by appearance of contagious diseases untypical for a certain region.
Since 2010, the territories of the Russian Federation bordering Ukraine have recorded an increase in the incidence of brucellosis, Congo-Crimean fever, West Nile fever and African swine fever, as well as an uncharacteristic expansion of vector ranges.
The Russian Federation, as a responsible party to the BTWC, is fully aware of the full range of threats associated with the possible consequences of its violation during the works performed in Ukrainian biolaboratories.
We have received information about U.S.-sponsored biological research in Ukraine. The decree of the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine (February 24, 2022) for emergency destruction of pathogen collections has reinforced our concerns about possible violation of the articles I and IV within the BTWC requirements in the Pentagon-commissioned work. The obtained materials have served as a basis for the Russian Federation’s investigation of U.S. biological activities at the territory of Ukraine.
The research in Ukrainian biolaboratories was carried out in accordance with the Agreement ‘On cooperation in the field of prevention of the spread of pathogens, technologies and knowledge that can be used in the development of biological weapons’ of 2005 between the U.S. military department and the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine.
The U.S. has spent over $250 million on biological programs in Ukraine.
The work was coordinated by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (DTRA), the research was conducted under conditions of secrecy with limited access of Ukrainian professionals to information and premises.
We are currently witnessing a change in the tactics of the U.S. administration in an attempt to withdraw this office, the activities of which have become the subject of an international investigation. According to available information, the functions of the customer of military-biological programs in the Central Asian region have been transferred to civilian specialised organisations, the work of which will be under control of the U.S. Navy, which is the most closed structure.
In addition, the Pentagon intends to transfer unfinished programs in Ukraine as soon as possible to other post-Soviet countries, as well as to Eastern European states (such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic) and Baltic countries.
The expansion of the network of biolaboratories, which can be used to create and store components of biological weapons, poses a threat to the military security of the Russian Federation. Unlike the nuclear weapons the U.S. deploys on the territory of NATO partner countries, the Alliance’s similar policy in the biological sphere allows it to approach our borders uncontrolled. This is the first issue we would like to emphasise.
Second, the focus of the Pentagon’s work does not correspond to the current problems of public health in Ukraine, the main of which are socially significant diseases: measles, rubella, tuberculosis, AIDS.
At the same time, the customers from the U.S. are interested in a completely different nomenclature: cholera, tularemia, plague, Congo-Crimean fever and hantaviruses. These pathogens were studied as part of the so-called Ukrainian UP and Tap projects. U.S. military biologists are interested because these pathogens have natural foci both in Ukraine and Russia, while their use can be disguised as natural disease outbreaks.
The activity of the biological laboratories that has been intensified since 2014 and the so-called Ukrainian healthcare system ‘reforming’ programme implemented by the United States have led to an unmanageable increase of hazardous and economically important infections morbidity. There has been noted an increase of rubella, diphtheria and tuberculosis cases in Ukraine. The incidence of measles has increased more than 100 times. The situation with African swine fever has significantly worsened, with total losses to the agricultural industry in Eastern European states from this disease exceeding 2.4 billion euros.
As part of the efforts declared by the U.S. Defence Department to combat infectious diseases in Ukraine and ensure sanitary and epidemic well-being, neither humanitarian aid or treatment of the infected individuals is provided, nor vaccine prophylaxis is administered to the population.
Moreover, the volume of measles and rubella vaccine prophylaxis decreased by 70% in comparison with 2008. This fact raises the question of the true purpose of the research being conducted.
Third. As we have repeatedly emphasised, one of the priority tasks of Ukrainian laboratories is to collect and to send strains of dangerous infectious diseases such as cholera, anthrax, and tularemia to the United States. At the same time, he movement of pathogens has not been controlled by the WHO, the BTWC, or other international institutions.
According to the Act of inspection of the collection of microbial strains in the Scientific Research Anti-Plague Institute named after Mechnikov in Odessa, 654 containers with anthrax pathogen and 422 containers with cholera pathogen were stored. The document states that it is not necessary to maintain a large number of tubes with the same strains. At the same time, the nomenclature and the accumulated number of dangerous pathogens call into question the preventive, protective or other peaceful nature of the activities carried out.
According to the testimony of an employee, the collection of the Odessa Institute was taken to the United States in February 2022. Considering that 46 laboratories participated in the U.S. program, the total number of strains taken out may be more than 10 thousand.
The available documents prove numerous cases of human tissue and serum samples transferred abroad from Ukraine, as well as dangerous pathogens and their carriers. The U.S. and its allies have managed to export at least 16,000 bio-samples from Ukraine, which creates risks of transferring sensitive genetic information abroad, as well as threats to biological security not only for Ukraine, but also for all the regions where the samples were transferred.
Fourth, according to available documents, 4,000 military personnel in Lvov, Kharkov, Odessa and Kiev had blood samples taken for antibodies to hantaviruses and 400 for antibodies to the Congo-Crimean fever virus as part of the UP8 project. This kind of large-scale immunity screening may have been conducted in order to assess the susceptibility of the region’s population to certain biological agents.
The decision signed by the head of the ethics committee of the Center for Public Health of Ukraine on June 12, 2019 within the abovementioned project is noteworthy. The document demonstrates that the research was conducted with unknown risks to the life and health of the participants, as well as concealing the identity of the subjects. The research program of this project involves only a standard blood sampling procedure. It is necessary to wonder what kind of consequences for life are mentioned when the document prescribes that ‘…minor incidents involving volunteers must be reported to the U.S. Bioethics Committee within 72 hours of the incident, and serious incidents, including death of test subjects, within 24 hours…’?
We do not exclude that the official research program is only ‘the visible part of the iceberg’, while, in practice, the infection of volunteers with the Congo-Crimean fever virus, hantaviruses, and leptospirosis pathogen was conducted.
The facts of testing on military personnel and socially vulnerable categories of Ukrainian citizens are confirmed by the testimonies of eyewitnesses interviewed as part of the parliamentary investigation in the Russian Federation.
Fifth. There is information on the development and patenting in the United States of technical means of delivery and use of biological weapons based on UAVs. For example, U.S. Patent and Trademark Agency has issued document No. 8 967 029 for an unmanned aerial vehicle for spreading infested insects in the air. The description of the patent states that with this device, enemy troops can be destroyed or disabled without risk to U.S. troops.
As you know, under U.S. law, a patent in the U.S. cannot be granted in the absence of an actual device in existence. It is possible to conclude that the container as a means of delivering biological agents has been developed and produced.
Considering the development of technical means for delivery and use of biological weapons in the United States, Ukraine’s interest in the supply of unmanned aerial vehicles is of particular concern.
We have at our disposal the confirmation of Ukraine’s request to the Turkish manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles Bayraktar dated from December 15, 2021, to equip this UAV with aerosol spraying systems and mechanisms with a capacity of over 20 litres.
With a UAV flight range of up to 300 km and containers filled with biological formulations, there is a real threat of large-scale use of biological weapons on the territory of the Russian Federation.
This fact raises the question: for what purpose did the United States develop and patent technical means of delivery of biological weapons, and what is the reason for Ukraine’s interest in acquiring such technical means?
Along with the Pentagon’s supervisory of biological research, the fact that since 2001 the United States has blocked any international initiatives to verify the BTWC is of particular concern. This eliminates the possibility of inspecting labs both within the U.S. and outside of national jurisdiction.
Since 2016, the beginning of the Ukrainian UP projects, the United States and Ukraine have been deliberately silent about them in their annual reporting on the implementation of the Convention as part of confidence-building measures, despite their explicit military-biological orientation. The documents do not reflect the funding of Ukrainian laboratories by the U.S. military department. This secrecy, as well as the secrecy of sensitive information, is another reason to wonder about the Pentagon’s true purposes.
The Russian Federation has consistently made efforts to create a legally binding BTWC verification mechanism.
Measures proposed by a number of countries to strengthen the Convention, in particular the French initiative on voluntary visits to biolaboratories, with all of their attractiveness, do not provide comprehensive control over their activities.
The lack of clear verification procedures, as well as control lists of microorganisms and toxins, allows Western countries, led by the United States, to interpret the BTWC subjectively. I would like to recall the collective West’s disregard for the so-called ‘principle of ten’. According to this principle, a decision must take into account an alternative point of view, even if it is expressed by only one country.
A clear example is the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) site, where the decision to give the organization attributive powers was made at the instigation of the United States, contrary to the opinion of most countries. This kind of a mechanism allows to ‘fabricate’ the necessary evidence and to assign blame at one’s own discretion that has already been repeatedly implemented in the course of investigations into the chemical incidents in Syria.
We believe that there is a need to revise the UN Security Council’s approach to decision-making in investigating chemical and biological incidents.
After the unfulfilled promises of the collective West on NATO nonproliferation to the East, we are not entitled to take ‘lip service’ to U.S. assurances about the peaceful nature of the Pentagon’s biological research.
The Russian Federation has repeatedly asked the United States and Ukraine at various international platforms to clarify the following issues:
- why the work was commissioned by the Pentagon, and its subject matter did not correspond to the current problems of public healthcare in Ukraine;
- what the Americans were hiding, conducting work under conditions of secrecy and limiting access of Ukrainian specialists to information and premises;
- what the Americans were hiding, conducting work under conditions of secrecy and limiting access of Ukrainian professionals to information and premises;
- why the facts of cooperation in the military-biological sphere were silenced in international reporting under the BTWC, and why the U.S. has been blocking the development of its verification mechanism since 2001;
- why are U.S. officials, including Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, so concerned about the possibility of the U.S. Defense Department’s activities in Ukraine and the materials in the biolaboratories being taken over by Russian professionals?
We have mentioned only some of the issues of extreme concern to us.
Meanwhile, we would like to answer the question why the studies were carried out outside of national territory.
In a memograph prepared by the U.S. State Department to address Russian concerns raised on October 12, 2018, regarding U.S. compliance with the BWC, Washington stresses strict compliance with the Convention, once again offering to believe ‘on its bare word’.
In addition, this memograph refers to ‘the noble tradition of participation by United States military scientists in public health research, which has lasted for more than 100 years’.
The examples of this kind of ‘participation’ are well known: Vietnam and Cuba.
I would like to draw your attention to another document that we have at our disposal concerning the testing in 2004 of a tularemia vaccine developed by the Walter Reed Infectious Disease Research Institute of the United States Army on the United States military. 468 cases of complications were reported during the trials that had involved 1,064 persons.
This largely explains the fact that such high-risk research has been transferred outside national territory. It has been proved by the treaty signed on August 29, 2005 by the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine and the U.S. Department of Defence.
We are currently witnessing the emergence of publications in the foreign press with Washington’s nervous reaction to the highly sensitive documents made public by the Russian Ministry of Defence. Journalists state that U.S. intelligence agencies are taking unprecedented measures to ensure that the Russian side has no potential witnesses close to the implementation of the Pentagon’s closed military-biological projects in Ukraine.
This kind of concerns of the White House confirm the threatening nature of the U.S. military-biological program, disguised as a peaceful purpose, both for Russia and for the entire international community.