Briefing by Chief of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Protection Troops General Lieutenant Igor Kirillov on U.S. military-biological activity
The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation continues to analyse the military and biological activities of the U.S. and its allies in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.
We noted earlier that during the special military operation, documentary evidence was obtained confirming that employees of the Biosphere Reserve in Askania Nova, Kherson region, were studying the migration routes of migratory birds and selecting and transferring biological material abroad.
The task force of the Russian Ministry of Defence together with officers of the Federal Security Service and Rosselkhoznadzor have confirmed the collection and certification of avian influenza virus strains with a high potential for epidemic spread and the ability to cross the species barrier, particularly the H5N8 strain, whose lethality in human transmission can reach 40%. Remember that 1% of new coronavirus infections result in death.
Despite efforts by the Reserve’s staff to destroy the biomaterials by cutting off the power to the refrigeration units and destroying the cryopreservoir with liquid nitrogen, specialists from the 48th Central Research Institute of the Russian Ministry of Defence found traces of genetic material of highly pathogenic avian influenza, Newcastle disease virus, and avuloviruses even in the samples that had undergone decomposition.
According to the employees who remained in the Reserve, the Ukrainian side offered them a large cash reward for removing or destroying the research results.
Documents seized in the Reserve's veterinary laboratory confirm the involvement of the Kharkov Institute of Veterinary Medicine in the work of the American UP-8 and P-444 Projects and preparations for the Flu-Fly-Way project.
Their goal was to evaluate the circumstances in which the transmission of diseases associated with economically significant infections may become uncontrollable, result in economic harm, and constitute a threat to food security.
It is necessary to emphasize that once more that the U.S. Department of Defense, an organisation that has nothing to do with the research of bird migratory routes, commissioned the projects.
We have already brought up the observed widespread bird mortality in the Askania Nova Nature Reserve in 2021, which experts think is infectious in nature.
The experiments being undertaken and a disregard for biosecurity regulations were recognised as the causes of the single-stage bird mortality.
Against this background, of particular concern is the increase in the incidence of bird flu in Russia and in European countries, where, according to the International Office of Epizootics, the disease has become a year-round disease with losses exceeding €3 billion since 2021.
Since the beginning of 2023, there have been 32 outbreaks of avian influenza recorded in Russia in all federal districts. In the last week alone, the disease was detected in poultry farms in the Kirov and Yaroslavl regions. Quarantine measures for highly pathogenic avian influenza have been imposed in Moscow since 17 May 2023.
At the same time, the total damage to the agricultural sector caused by the disease in the last three years has exceeded 4.5 billion roubles, and more than 10 million poultry have been eliminated.
African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease, which pose a serious threat to food security, have never been recorded in the U.S., despite the fact that the U.S. has seen avian influenza epizootics since 2003. At the same time, the U.S. military is actively studying these economically significant infections outside the national territory in bio-laboratories located along the borders of its geopolitical adversaries.
This demonstrates once more that the U.S. is creating biological weapons components abroad, notably in Ukraine.
Recall that the United States published its National Biodefense Strategy in October 2022. The doctrinal paper identifies biological risk management as a top concern for the United States.
Washington intends to develop a U.S.-controlled architecture for preventing, responding to, and neutralising biothreats in U.S. national interest under the approved Strategy.
One of the areas of strategic development is the improvement of individual and group biosecurity methods for U.S. military personnel in different theatres of war. The goal is also to continue the study of area-endemic pathogens of particularly dangerous infectious diseases.
This is confirmed by another long-term planning document, the new U.S. DoD Biomanufacturing Strategy approved on 23 March 2023. I draw your attention to the fact that the strategy was developed specifically by the US military department. The document defines long-term goals for the development of biotechnology and the search for its military applications.
The claimed goal is to ensure technological sovereignty in the field of bioproduction and to outpace strategic rivals.
The amount of funding for activities within the framework of the approved strategic documents for the next five years will be about $90 billion. In addition, the U.S. intends to strengthen global control of the biological situation in the world and reserves the right to conduct ‘dual-use’ research, including outside the national territory.
In the post-Soviet region, the U.S. has already stepped up its military-biological activities. Pentagon contractors and civilian intermediates like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Gryphon Scientific research company have taken the position of the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and Pentagon contractors. Work is scheduled to collect and genotype samples of the pathogens of three extremely hazardous illnesses indigenous to these regions—plague, anthrax, and tularaemia—under the cover of doing completely peaceful tasks in the states of Central Asia and Transcaucasia.
The U.S. government is achieving this by employing a tried-and-true scenario of purportedly ‘humanitarian’ collaboration.
First, issues related to the biological situation are brought forward. Intergovernmental agreements are then finalised after securing the line ministries' interest in cooperating.
As a result, a bio-facility that is wired into a solitary biosurveillance system is built. The United States acquires ownership of all biological developments made in the nation, including collections of pathogens, and the laboratory infrastructure put in place is rendered ineffective without U.S. assistance.
I would like to point out that the number of biolaboratories in the United States with the highest possible BSL-3-plus and BSL-4 containment levels has increased significantly over the past few years.
According to a report by King's College London, there are 25 active laboratories in the US and three under construction where research on highly dangerous viruses and bacteria is being conducted.
In accordance with the document, 18 additional BSL-4 laboratories will open in the upcoming years, the most of which will be situated in Asian nations outside the legal jurisdiction of the U.S.
There are concerns that these facilities will pose serious risks: they are located in densely populated areas, save on protective equipment, and lack effective biosafety regulations in the countries where they are based.
Furthermore, in the US Intelligence Community's February 2023 Global Threat Assessment, the authors emphasise that, ‘there is no effective mechanism to control and address biorisk, and international surveillance bodies with competencies in this area are fragmented and lack authority’.
Despite compelling evidence from the scientific community, the U.S. government is unable to come to the correct conclusions and keeps engaging in murky biological operations globally.
Washington's professed dedication to ‘global biosafety standards and norms’ really manifests as a rejection of international efforts to fortify the BWC and a blocking of the development of its verification mechanism.
It should be noted that the U.S. has never clearly stated its commitment to the safety of research carried out in biolaboratories under its control.
This is supported by a review of US National Institutes of Health documents that relate to safety violations. In the course of an investigation conducted by the Intersept independent company, more than five and a half thousand pages of incident reports were studied. It concluded that research carried out at universities in Washington, Minnesota, and Illinois led to in-lab contamination and created the risk of further spread of dangerous pathogens.
These statistics do not take into account incidents at military-biological facilities, a key one being the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. However, the Institute has repeatedly been the subject of investigations by U.S. federal agencies because of its non-transparent and unsafe activities.
In 2009, for example, its operations were suspended due to violations of the rules governing the accounting of biomaterials, creating risks of loss, theft and illegal trafficking of pathogens. Recall that it was this institute where microbiologist Bruce Evans, the prime suspect in the bio-terrorist attacks linked to the sending of anthrax spores to the U.S. in 2001, worked.
In 2019, federal regulatory agencies banned work on dangerous pathogens at Fort Detrick due to poor efficacy of effluent disinfection systems and numerous safety violations, which took almost a year to fix.
According to an official statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, it was during this period that localised outbreaks of pneumonia of unknown origin were reported in several areas of the U.S.
Systematic breaches of security requirements at U.S. biolabs have raised justifiable concerns in the global community.
In December 2019, for example, the relocation of the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit Three (NAMRU-3) from Cairo to Sicily's Sigonella Air Base has provoked an extremely negative reaction from Italian citizens.
According to the Italian media, the U.S. used the pandemic to divert public attention from the fact that the biolaboratory had been relocated. As L'Antidiplomatico notes, that ‘it is highly suspicious that the opportunity to spread the word about this laboratory was not taken, if on paper its purpose is to study health threats’.
I would like to recall that of all European countries it was Italy that was most seriously affected by the COVID-19 virus, and the Russian Ministry of Defence, at the request of the Italian authorities, promptly provided assistance to the Italian people at the height of the epidemic. However, not a single source mentions the activities of NAMRU-3 to protect Italian citizens, although the level of equipment of the facility allowed and allows for the full range of research with the new coronavirus agent.
Clearly, the redeployment of NAMRU-3 under the pretext of providing assistance was not intended to protect Italians, and the role of the biolab in the spread of COVID-19 has yet to be assessed.
No wonder that the decision by the Pesaro city authorities to construct a national biolaboratory sparked a wave of local protests and widespread pleas to state authorities given the deployment of a U.S. military biological facility in Italy.
Earlier, the Russian Ministry of Defence reported on the Pentagon’s establishment of the Electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance System (EIDSS). Equipping bioweapons facilities on the territory of other countries with such systems provides the U.S. with an opportunity not only to ensure the security of its military contingents at their deployment sites, but also to remotely monitor the activities of biolaboratories outside national jurisdictions.
The surveillance system includes U.S. Army and Navy laboratories as well as verification points located at U.S. military bases in different regions of the world. The core part of this network, which has been forming since 1997, is the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. I would like to describe its activities in more detail.
Documents obtained during the special military operation show that for several years the Institute has been involved in training Ukrainian personnel as part of the Biological Threat Reduction Programme. Robert Lipnik, head of the epidemiology department, and his subordinates were involved in the training of Ukrainian specialists.
Representatives of the institute supervised military and biological projects UP-1 and UP-2, organised by DTRA, during which active collection of biomaterials of Ukrainian population was carried out. In the UP-1 project alone, more than 800 blood samples were collected under the pretext of studying the spread of tick-borne infections.
According to the documents in our possession, the Walter Reed Institute was actively involved in the 2014–2020 conflict in Donbas in studying the antibiotic resistance of microbes isolated from military troops of the AFU.
As part of this project, 813 microorganisms obtained from 162 patients were studied in four Ukrainian military hospitals located in different parts of the country and full-genome sequencing of 52 isolates was carried out.
It is understandable to wonder why the U.S. Army Institute would research the antibiotic resistance of microbes found in Donbass land. This provides more proof that the U.S. considered Ukraine's territory to be a base for the entry of NATO military forces.
The Russian Defence Ministry shall keep tracking the operations of the agencies subordinate to the U.S. Department of Defense that are involved in creating bioweapon components.