The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that it advised Ukraine to destroy dangerous pathogens in the country’s public health laboratories to prevent any of them from getting out amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Biosecurity experts say Russia’s movement of troops into Ukraine and bombardment of its cities have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged,” Reuters reported. “Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans including, most recently, COVID-19. Its labs have received support from the United States, the European Union and the WHO.”
The WHO, a United Nations agency, told Reuters: “As part of this work, WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills.”
The WHO said that it has already been working with the labs in Ukraine for years to prevent any pathogens from getting accidentally or deliberately released.
Reuters said that the agency made no reference to biowarfare, and that the agency had encouraged everyone to operate in “the safe and secure disposal of any pathogens they come across, and to reach out for technical assistance as needed.”
The Department of Defense claimed this week that rumors that the U.S. maintained nefarious bioweapons labs in Ukraine were “false” and were “a piece of the Russian playbook here.”
U.S. officials say that they are worried that Russia could be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine after Russia accused Ukraine of planning a false flag attack using such weapons.
The New York Times reported:
A new report by the European Expert Association, a research group that focuses on security in Ukraine, and the technology watchdog group Reset Tech said that since October, misinformation researchers had observed rumors circulating widely online and in Russian news media that could be groundwork for such an operation, or to help justify a military buildup.
Many of the rumors first started circulating on anonymous Telegram channels, and were then repeated in televised statements by Russian officials, the report said. Others started with statements from Russian officials and were repeated on Telegram channels until they became talking points among ordinary citizens.
An official told NBC News that the U.S. was worried that the Russians were making the claim “to justify a false-flag operation or them using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine themselves,” adding, “We do believe that we should be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons.”
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