Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday that US authorities contradict themselves regarding the nature of US biological labs in Ukraine.
Antonov referred to a statement made by John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House National Security Council, who said the United States was working on pandemic prevention and did not operate biological weapons labs as part of its biological research in Ukraine.
“The Americans do contradict themselves,” Antonov told the Russian embassy’s press service in Washington. “If such a program was purely peaceful, then why were the works so promptly curtailed? Why are these issues handled by the military, but not the civilian specialists? The answer is obvious: Washington had and has something to hide.”
Antonov said Kirby himself had raised suspicions when he announced the Ukraine projects were closed, and the labs were thoroughly deactivated before the start of the Russian invasion. “In other words, the US did everything possible to ensure that the results of its research did not fall into the hands of the Russian military,” the ambassador said.
In March 2022, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian officials spread claims that public health facilities in Ukraine were secret US-funded biolabs developing biological weapons. This was debunked early on as fake news by multiple media outlets, scientific groups, and international institutions.
In July 2022, two Russian MPs announced that a biolabs commission investigation found that Ukraine had administered drugs to its soldiers that “completely neutralize the last traces of human consciousness and turn them into the most cruel and deadly monsters,” and that this was evidence that “this system for the control and creation of a cruel murder machine was implemented under the management of the United States.”
These claims and others were later repeated by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese state media, and QAnon, becoming a mainstay of extremist groups in the US – despite refutations by numerous Russian scientists inside and outside Russia, who publicly accused the Russian government of lying about having evidence of those covert “bioweapons labs” in Ukraine, and saying that documents Russia’s Defense Ministry described as proof were records of pathogens collected for public health research.
The “bioweapons labs” claim has also been refuted by the US, Ukraine, the UN, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
This week, Moscow decided to bring the biolabs charges back into circulation. A website called Global Village Space reported on Tuesday that the commander of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Forces, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, presented Ukrainian-language documents referring to HIV infection studies that began in 2019. The list of targeted groups shows service members alongside prisoners, drug addicts, and other “patients at high risk of infection.”
According to Kirillov, the Russian military recovered more than 20,000 documents and other materials related to the biological programs in Ukraine, including interviews with eyewitnesses and participants. He insisted the evidence “confirms the focus of the Pentagon on creating biological weapons components and testing them on the population of Ukraine and other states along Russia’s borders.”
Ambassador Antonov relied on Kirillov’s “revelations” to suggest the most controversial American experiments are conducted outside the US. “I will give just one example: since 2019, Washington has regarded Ukraine as a platform for experiments related to HIV infection. The target groups were made of the most vulnerable categories of the population with high risks of infection. The materials at the disposal of our Defense Ministry prove the Pentagon’s focus on creating bioweapons components.”
Yes, the latest proof of American biological experiments in Ukraine is provided by one Russian official quoting another Russian official.
But Antonov was ready to admit that a search for those labs on Ukrainian soil today would not yield results, because, “as one would expect, now the Americans are actively relocating the unfinished projects from Ukraine to the countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe. In order to divert attention, they shift the functions of the ‘customer’ to civilian structures – the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Energy, and the Agency for International Development. They obviously hope that it will help them avoid criticism and deflect the blow from the Pentagon,” he explained.
In support of Antonov’s claims, another Russian official, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, said a special Russian military operation in Ukraine “produced evidence the Kiev regime was urgently eliminating traces of a US Department of Defense-funded military biological program in Ukraine.”
Finally, Robert Mackey, writing for The Intercept, pointed out similarities between the Russian lies about US biolabs in Ukraine to fabricated claims the Bush administration made about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction program that led up to the invasion of Iraq.
Mackey wrote: “All this suggests that the real lesson Russian officials took from the false American claims of WMD in Iraq is not that such claims need to be backed by solid evidence, but that they can make similarly false claims now, secure in the knowledge that very few people will bother to look at the evidence at all.”