It’s true. The United States has indeed funded biological laboratories in Ukraine. This is a matter of indisputable fact.
While the facts are undeniable, what does it all mean? What is being funded and why? What kind of research is really undertaken at these biolabs? Are there bioweapons at any of these facilities?
The answers to these questions can be found in source documents and in explanations that have been offered by those who have relevant and intimate knowledge about the programs that oversee the biolabs.
Ukraine biolabs – What we know.
In October of 1993, the U.S. and Ukraine signed the Agreement between the United States of America and Ukraine Concerning Assistance to Ukraine in the Elimination of Strategic Nuclear Arms, and the Prevention of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. In August 2005, the U.S. and Ukraine signed the Agreement between the Department of Defense of the United States of America and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Concerning Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise that could be Used in the Development of Biological Weapons.
In the latter agreement, the following is written:
In order to assist Ukraine in preventing the proliferation of technology, pathogens, and expertise... that could be used in the development of biological weapons, the U.S. Department of Defense shall provide assistance to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine at no cost, subject to the availability of funds appropriated for this purpose, in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.
Assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Defense to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine under Article I, Paragraph 1 may include, but is not limited to, cooperative biological research, biological threat agent detection and response, and assistance for improving biological material protection, control and accountability in order to reduce the risk of theft or unauthorized use of dangerous pathogens located at the facilities in Ukraine referred to in Article I, Paragraph 1.
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine or its designated agent shall consolidate and store all dangerous pathogens at secure centralized laboratories designated in writing by the Parties that have received or are receiving the U.S. Department of Defense assistance under this Agreement (hereinafter centralized laboratories).
It is thus established that U.S. funds were appropriated and that they indeed “shall” be made available to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine for variety of laboratory assistance.
It should be noted that this agreement explicitly states that “dangerous pathogens” “that could be used in the development of biological weapons” are included within the scope of this agreement and that such pathogens may be controlled and accounted for in “secure centralized laboratories” in Ukraine.
These laboratories fall under the purview of the Biological Threat Reduction Program, or BTRP. In turn, the BTRP is overseen by the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) within the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which is under control of the U.S. Department of Defense.
The DTRA’s official website states:
CTR eliminates WMD stockpiles, provides support to consolidate, secure, and account for the materials, and enables partners to detect and prevent WMD trafficking around the world. CTR also includes the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) which builds capabilities to detect and track Especially Dangerous Pathogenic (EDP) diseases, and links the U.S. to over 30 foreign partners, enhancing global biosafety, biosecurity, and biosurveillance.
Regarding the BTRP in Ukraine, the Ukraine embassy writes the following:
Here in Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Biological Threat Reduction Program works with the Ukrainian Government to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern in Ukrainian government facilities, while allowing for peaceful research and vaccine development.
A list of biolabs in Ukraine that have been funded by the United States can be found on the Ukraine embassy’s BTRP page. The “fact sheets” provide information such as donors, beneficiaries, contractors, oversight, amount of funds for the contracts, construction permits, and permits for pathogens. Here is a sample sheet:
The main contractor for these facilities is a U.S. company, Black & Veatch. They specialize in consulting and the construction of a variety of government facilities. In 2010, “Black & Veatch completed Ukraine’s first Biological Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory in Odessa on time and under budget.” Their company webpage explains that this lab...
was specifically designed and constructed to support work with especially dangerous pathogens that can be naturally occurring or introduced through a bioterrorism attack.
In a self-described assessment for an international National Academies workshop about higher-security-level biolabs, the following was submitted for Ukraine:
E7. HIGH-CONTAINMENT LABORATORIES IN UKRAINE: LOCAL RESOURCES AND REGULATIONS
There are over 4,000 registered microbiological laboratories in Ukraine, but only 2 of them have a permit to work with microorganisms of the first pathogenic group, 402 laboratories have a permit to work with the microorganisms of the second pathogenic group, and all others are allowed to work only with microorganisms of the third and forth pathogenic groups. Here it is necessary to note that the classification of pathogenic organisms and therefore classification of the laboratories in Ukraine differs from the international one. It is inverted (i.e., in Ukraine "one" is the highest risk and "four" is the lowest risk) and also has some additional differences. That is why when speaking about high-containment laboratories according to Ukraine’s official classification we need to consider the laboratories that have a permit to work with the microorganisms of the first and the second pathogenic groups. At the same time it is not possible to say that a laboratory that has a permit to work with microorganisms of the first pathogenic group in Ukraine is equivalent to an international BSL-4 lab or that one working with microorganisms of the second pathogenic group is equivalent to a BSL-3 lab.
According to the available data, there are no laboratories in Ukraine that fulfill BSL-4 requirements. One of the laboratories that has a permit to work with the microorganisms of the first pathogenic group did, however, recently undergo an international audit as a BSL-3 laboratory and received a preliminary positive evaluation. This is one of the laboratories of the SI (State Institution) "Ukrainian I. I. Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute" of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine (Odessa), which is responsible for the identification of especially dangerous biological pathogens. This laboratory was reconstructed and technically updated up to the BSL-3 level through a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Defense and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine that started in 2005. The collaboration focuses on preventing the spread of technologies, pathogens, and knowledge that can be used in the development of biological weapons. The updated laboratory serves as Interim Central Reference Laboratory with a depozitarium (pathogen collection). According to Ukrainian regulations, it has a permit to work with both bacteria and viruses of the first and second pathogenic groups. A second laboratory of the SI "Ukrainian I. I. Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute" of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine also has a permit to work with microorganisms of the first pathogenic group, but it is not updated to the BSL-3 level. This laboratory works only with the especially dangerous infections of bacterial etiology. The third laboratory upgraded to the BSL-3 level belongs to the Central Sanitary Epidemiological Station of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. This laboratory was updated within the State program and the above-mentioned cooperative agreement between Ukraine and the United States. It has a permit to work with microorganisms of the second pathogenic group and is intended for work with especially dangerous infections.
In a video shared by the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, a U.S. official speaks about a similar laboratory in Kazakhstan, stating:
"Kazakhstan, like many of the other republics in the former Soviet Union, had biological weapons. Russian media has attacked the Central Reference Laboratory that was built by the Biological Threat Reduction Program.
"The laboratory is there to both store dangerous biological pathogens from the Soviet era and to conduct research by Kazakhstani scientists in order to prevent the spread of new biological pathogens."
The high-security Central Reference Laboratories, such as these two in Kazakhstan and Ukraine, are specifically designated as storage facilities for Soviet-era bioweapons and pathogens. Part of the research at these laboratories is to catalogue these pathogens and weapons, study them and develop vaccines, and to destroy the pathogens and weapons.
The following are excerpts from the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences’ interview with Robert Pope, Director of the CTR Program, published on February 25, 2022:
While the United States isn’t maintaining bioweapons facilities, Pope said, war could put pathogen collections in Ukraine at risk.
“I would say from every facility that we have worked with them in, we have confidence that as long as the electrical power is turned on and the people we have trained are present at the facility, the biosafety officers, that these pathogens are safe and secure to international standards,” Pope said. “Should these facilities be damaged by conflict, that could change.”
The invasion could also provide fodder for new disinformation narratives around the labs, Pope feared. The Russians, he said, “could potentially go to one of these facilities and fabricate something that they call evidence of nefarious activity at the facility.”
“There is no place that still has any of the sort of infrastructure for researching or producing biological weapons,” Pope said. “Scientists being scientists, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of these strain collections in some of these laboratories still have pathogen strains that go all the way back to the origins of that program.”
This work, Pope said, continued in Ukraine until recently. “They have more pathogens in more places than we recommend,” he said. The program had been helping Ukrainian researchers sift through their frozen pathogen collections, with the goal of persuading the Ukrainians to preserve their genetic information of samples via sequencing before destroying the live samples.
Pope said his program had been close to an agreement with the Ukrainians on consolidating samples, but the invasion has now made that project uncertain. “All of that, obviously, has been derailed here with the recent events,” he said.
The uncertainty of the biolabs’ integrity during the invasion of Ukraine by Russia near the end of February is concerning for other U.S. government officials as well. On March 8, 2022, the Undersecretary of State, Victoria Nuland, spoke at a Senate hearing in which the following exchange took place between Nuland and Senator Marco Rubio:
Sen. Marco Rubio: "Does Ukraine have chemical or biological weapons?"
Victoria Nuland: “Ukraine has biological research facilities which, in fact, we’re now quite concerned Russian troops – Russian forces – may be seeking to gain control of, so we are working with the Ukrainians on how we can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.”
Senator Rubio quickly redirected Nuland to alleged Russian propaganda and a question about a hypothetical attack during the current Ukraine-Russia conflict:
Sen. Marco Rubio: “I’m sure you’re aware that the Russian propaganda groups are already putting out there all kinds of information about how they have uncovered a plot by the Ukrainians to unleash biological weapons in the country, and with NATO’s coordination.
“If there is a biological or chemical weapon incident or attack inside Ukraine, is there any doubt in your mind that 100% it would be the Russians behind it?”
Victoria Nuland: “There is no doubt in my mind, senator. And, in fact, it is a classic Russian technique to blame the other guy for what they are planning to do themselves.”
The publicly expressed concern from U.S. officials – in addition to the previous statements about biolab capabilities and the materials that may be stored in them – and the stated purposes of these labs, according to international agreements and the agencies overseeing them, suggests that at least one high-security lab in Ukraine may hold extremely dangerous pathogens and/or old Soviet-era bioweapons that have not yet been destroyed. These pathogens and/or Soviet-era bioweapons could be acquired, leaked or otherwise broken from containment, or deliberately used by either Ukraine or Russian forces during the course of their current conflict.
This is not speculation. We have a factual, documented record of these labs and apparent legitimate concern from the U.S. government that a catastrophic event could occur with the materials at the labs which, based on the evidence, could include bioweapons.
This does not mean that the labs in Ukraine are currently researching and creating new bioweapons. Those accusations have been vehemently denied by the United States and Ukraine and they claim that operations are open to scrutiny by various national and international agencies and institutes.
Ukraine biolabs – What we don’t know.
What we don’t know about the Ukraine biolab controversy is why there were seemingly early attempts to downplay the danger of the materials in the labs or to mislead people about U.S. involvement in the funding of these labs. There has been a lot of wordplay about “owning” and “operating” the biolabs, as well as some denials about funding, despite the documented agreements, contract records, and agency directives and mission statements confirming U.S. funding and material supply roles.
In addition to strange denials and careful wordsmithing, there have been many attempts to deny what most critiques have not alleged: that there are U.S. or Ukraine bioWEAPON programs. This apparently intentional conflation of “biolabs” and “bioweapons” has been used to try to ridicule and shut down any questions about the U.S.-funded labs and programs in Ukraine.
Regardless of these dishonest rebuttals and continual attempts to label critics as “Putin propagandists,” the fact is that we cannot be certain that what we are being told is indeed the truth. The United States government does not have a very good track record of transparency and honesty, particularly when it comes to both weapons programs and their involvement in foreign facilities for research, torture, or otherwise.
The entire world is still reeling from a “pandemic” that increasingly appears to have been triggered by a U.S.-funded laboratory that was researching a virus that may very well have been weaponized with the help of Chinese Communist Party bioweapon engineers. At the very least, prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, controversial gain-of-function research was likely attempted on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a BSL-4 biolab in China that had received U.S. funding and where U.S. researchers had worked.
We still do not have definitive answers about Covid-19 but most of what we do know does not point to the preposterous “bat soup” theory. And governments around the world – most notably from the U.S. and China, the two countries that could provide answers if they desired – have so far refused to care enough to provide relevant, credible information.
In light of this credibility deficit with the United States, a corrupt government in Ukraine, and the allegations of an invading Russia, it’s hard to say what exactly is happening in Ukraine and what may or may not be at the biolabs in question. What we can’t verify about the labs is:
- Are there Soviet-era bioweapons still stored at any of the Ukraine biolabs?
- Are there Soviet-era “especially dangerous pathogens” at any of the Ukraine biolabs?
- Are there currently dangerous pathogens that could be acquired and used in short order for bioterrorism at any of the Ukraine biolabs?
- If any of the materials in 1-3 do exist, how much is there and can it be destroyed before Russia gains access to or control of those labs, or before those labs’ containment systems are compromised by damage from war?
- Is the concern about bioterrorism from Russia reasonable, given that Russia had its own bioweapons programs and presumably has the same potential bioweapons that the former Soviet Ukraine had developed?
- Is there any actual evidence that Russia intends to use bioweapons or conduct a bioterrorism attack in Ukraine, or is it just fearmongering?
- How can anyone trust any of the parties involved, as each one has its own motives to lie about and blame the others?
These questions are not unreasonable. They ought to be answered honestly, as publicly as possible, and preferably with evidence to support any of the claims being made. If our governments cannot provide at least that much transparency about something as grave as potential biological warfare, then we have no reason to continue listening to their emotional pleas, to continue trusting their prepared statements, and certainly not to go along with their reckless ideas and plans to escalate conflicts into possible world wars.
We deserve better and we should, at the very least, be able to openly discuss topics, events, and decisions that may involve a potentially significant loss of life.
There’s always more to the story.
An interesting side note about these biolabs in Ukraine comes from one of the sub-contractors for Black & Veatch.
Metabiota, a San Francisco-based company, received early investment from Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners (RSTP), the company co-founded by Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President and current President of the United States, Joe Biden. The earliest mention of Metabiota from the RSTP website was March 2014. The following year, Metabiota earned $30 million in a round of Series-A funding, which was led by RSTP.
Metabiota received those early investments and was awarded biolab contracts in Ukraine while Joe Biden was Vice President during the Barack Obama administration – the same time in which Hunter Biden became a board member of Burisma, the Ukraine energy company that was the focus of a government corruption investigation. Hunter Biden’s selection as a board member of Burisma and the start of the corruption investigation in Ukraine both occurred in April 2014, just two months after the “Revolution of Dignity” coup ousted the elected Russian-friendly Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych.
It’s remarkable that the son of a Vice President – a VP that was assigned Ukraine as one of his major focuses during the Obama administration – just happened to invest in a company, in or around March 2014, that received biolab contracts in Ukraine just as the Ukraine president was being ousted via a U.S.-supported coup, and then that same son of that same VP was also placed on the board of directors for a major Ukraine energy company a month later, as that company came under investigation for corruption...and that same Vice President later had the Ukrainian prosecutor looking into the energy company fired.
It’s probably just a coincidence but something doesn’t smell right with the Bidens and Ukraine – and perhaps someone should start looking into it.