Russia’s military says it has acquired evidence showing that the United States has funded biological weapons research in Ukraine, over two weeks into the Russian special military operation in the country.
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a televised briefing on Thursday that Russia’s Armed Forces had obtained documents from biological laboratories in Ukraine that had to do with the Pentagon financing research on developing a mechanism of the covert spread of deadly pathogens.
“The purpose of this and other Pentagon-funded biological research in Ukraine was to establish a mechanism for the stealthy spread of deadly pathogens,” he said, noting that US military-biological activities in Ukraine included the transfer of Ukrainians’ biomaterial abroad.
“Additionally, a special interest was caused by detailed information on the US implementing a project on Ukrainian soil on studying the transfer of pathogens by wild birds migrating between Ukraine and Russia, other countries,” Konashenkov said, as quoted by TASS.
The Russian top brass also said the obtained documents had revealed Americans in Ukraine in the current year “planned to conduct works on bird, bat and reptile pathogens subsequently proceeding to researching the possibility of them transmitting African swine fever and anthrax.”
Konashenkov said the US established and funded bio-laboratories in Ukraine “have been experimenting with bat coronavirus samples.” The Russian military official added that in the near future, another set of documents obtained from Ukrainian employees would be published and the results of their expert assessment would be presented.
Earlier, Igor Kirillov, the chief of the Russian army’s radiation, chemical and biological protection force, announced that a network of more than 30 biological labs had been established on the Ukrainian soil upon orders from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) of the US Department of Defense.
Later in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated the same allegations at a press conference held following a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, at a forum in the Turkish resort city of Antalya.
“The Americans carried out this work in complete secrecy. Just like how they work in other former Soviet states, creating their military-biological labs right along Russia’s borders,” Russia’s top diplomat said.
Washington and Kiev deny the existence of such laboratories in Ukraine.
Moscow holds a similar accusation against Washington in the case of Georgia, another former Soviet republic, where Russia says the US is secretly conducting biological experiments. Georgia, like Ukraine, seeks to become a member state of NATO and the European Union.
Russia denies conducting airstrike on Ukraine hospital
In another development on Thursday, Russia's Defense Ministry denied having carried out an airstrike on a maternity and children's hospital in Ukraine's Mariupol the previous day, accusing Ukraine of a "staged provocation."
The ministry added that Russia carried out no airstrikes on ground targets in that area on Wednesday, respecting an agreed "silent regime."
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy who has accused Russia of carrying out genocide, said on Thursday that three people including a child were killed in Wednesday's air strike on the hospital.
China hopes Ukraine conflict ends soon
Separately on Thursday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing hopes the war in Ukraine could stop as soon as possible.
“We hope to see fighting and the war stop as soon as possible,” China’s state broadcaster CCTV quoted Wang as saying in a video conference call with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
China’s foreign minister also urged all sides in the growing conflict to exercise restraint and to work more in the direction of de-escalation.
UK says concerned about use of chemical weapons in Ukraine
In another development on Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said London is concerned about the possible use of chemical weapons by Russia in Ukraine, warning that it would be a grave mistake for Russian President Vladimir Putin to use them.
“We are very concerned about the potential use of chemical weapons. We have seen Russia use these weapons before in fields of conflict, but that would be a grave mistake on the part of Russia, adding to the grave mistakes already being made by Putin,” said Truss.
On February 24, Putin announced a “special military operation” aimed at “demilitarization” of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine. In 2014, the two regions declared themselves new republics, refusing to recognize Ukraine’s Western-backed government.
Announcing the operation, Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”
The West has been piling on sanctions against Moscow, and accusing it of not sparing civilians.
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