14ymedio, Alejandro Saavedra, Havana, 1 June 2022 — The Cuban official press has spent months supporting the Russian narrative that there are secret laboratories sponsored by the United States in Ukraine that are dedicated to the production of biological weapons, although there is no evidence in this regard.
In at least five articles published since the end of March, media such as Cubadebate, Granma and Visión Tunera affirm that there are more than 30 laboratories in Ukraine that carry out large-scale military biological activities. However, the aforementioned facilities are not secret, nor is there evidence that they carry out any military research.
The publications echo statements by the Russian Ministry of Defense according to which Ukraine develops pathogens for military use to spread through the migration of ducks and bats. Its only source is Russian military reports.
“The objective of this biological research funded by the Pentagon in Ukraine is to create a mechanism for the secret spread of deadly pathogens,” says one of the articles published by Cubadebate.
“During its special military operation in Ukraine, Russia found numbered birds produced by Ukrainian biological laboratories, financed and supervised by the United States,” Granma says, in an article entitled: Numbered birds, a weapon to kill without firing a single shot, among other biological experiments.
First of all, the laboratories are not secret. On the contrary, it is public knowledge that Ukraine has a network of laboratories that investigate diseases dangerous to human and animal health, such as anthrax and hemorrhagic fever.
Nor is it a secret that these facilities receive financial support from the United States. On the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine there is a section that includes all the details of this collaboration. Some of the laboratories are also supported by the European Union and the World Health Organization.
Another relevant aspect is that Russia hasn’t presented any evidence that these laboratories are used for military research or that the facilities have the necessary capabilities for the development of weapons.
“There is no indication that Ukrainian laboratories have been involved in any infamous activity, or in any research or development that contravenes the Biological Weapons Convention,” Filippa Lentzos, a biosafety expert at King’s College London, told the BBC.
“The reality is that a true biological weapons program has additional requirements, such as the formulation of an agent that can be mass-produced and stable enough to be stored and disseminated,” the director of the Postgraduate Program in Biodefense at George Mason University, Gregory Koblentz, told Politifact.
Ukraine also submits, on a regular basis, voluntary reports on compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production and possession of biological weapons. Nor does the United Nations have any report from the Office for Disarmament Affairs that indicates suspicion about the research carried out in Ukrainian laboratories.
Finally, the United States Department of Defense reported on March 11 that when the Russian attacks began, the Ukraine Ministry of Health ordered the safe disposal of the pathogen samples that were stored in the laboratories, with the aim of preventing any type of accidental release generated by the attacks.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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