iological warfare, and the threat of it, is a form of tyranny that no human in any circumstance should ever the face the prospect of, and the UN Convention on this makes that abundantly clear. This kind of warfare inflicts untold suffering on the individuals it affects, soldiers and civilians alike.

With the rapidly developing story regarding biolabs in Ukraine. There is still a lot that is unknown. What is clear, however, is that there has been a concerted effort to drive attention away from the story and scrub documents and evidence relating to the operations of such biolabs. The following is a documented timeline of relevant events involving biological operations in Ukraine so far.

 

1991: The Nunn-Lugar Act establishes the Co-operative Threat Reduction Program to dismantle stockpiles of biological weapons in the former Soviet bloc.

1999: The Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute in Odessa begins work on studying “especially dangerous infections” of Level 3 to Level 4 Classification. This covers the highest level of infectious agents.

2005: The Irish Times notes an Odessan biolab’s prior history with studying anthrax, amongst other diseases, while under control of the Soviet Union.

29th August 2005: US Department of State signs an agreement with Ukraine to assist in “Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise that could be used in the Development of Biological Weapons”.

2005-2010: Then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator Dick Lugar enter a partnership with Ukrainian officials to plan, build and fund a Level 3 biolab and improve security at sites where dangerous pathogens are kept. 

2008: The James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies note how it would make sense for at least one biolab in Ukraine to be studying the former Soviet Union’s biological weapons capabilities

2012: US Department of Defence provides funding for Ukrainian Biolabs. The documents have since been scrubbed from the US Embassy website, but still appear in archived formats. Further documents also indicate this. 

US Company Black and Veatch are listed as head contractors for over a dozen Ukranian biolabs. The same company also list on their website the complete construction of a Level 3 biolab in Odessa with US DTRA funding.

2013: The James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies notes the poor biosafety protocols in Ukraine biolabs.

10th February 2014: US Company Metabiotia Inc. is awarded an $18.4 million Pentagon contract to operate Biolabs in Ukraine and Georgia. Metabiota receives funding from a number of partners, including Google and Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners, the latter of which being led by Hunter Biden. 

2018: WHO links Metabiota with the failings in controlling the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Lione due to poor biosafety protocols.

2019: Two Level 2 biolabs are constructed in Kyiv and Odessa respectively. 

2021: A Ukranian journalist reports on the presence of US-funded biolabs in Ukraine. 

24th February 2022: Ukrainian Ministry of Health orders biological agents at research labs to be destroyed.

25th February 2022. US Embassy in Ukraine deletes numerous files on its website pertaining to biolabs in Ukraine.

7th March 2022: Igor Kirillov, Chief of the Radiation-Chemical and Bacteriological Protection Troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, gives a briefing detailing US-funded biological programs in Ukraine.

8th March 2022: US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland confirms the presence of biolabs in Ukraine, warning of potential dangers should they be occupied by Russian forces. This is the same Nuland featured in the infamous “f*** the EU” phone call discussing selection of the next President of Ukraine.

10th March 2022: Russian Ministry of Defence publishes documents claiming to be obtained by its forces in Ukraine. They document several projects by biolabs in Ukraine relating to pathogen spread, including H5N1 through migrating birds, Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever virus and bat viruses.

US Department of State says they do not possess any chemical or biological weapons.

11th March 2022: US Pentagon files a fact sheet detailing $200 million spent since 2005 on supporting 46 Ukrainian biolabs.

WHO orders Ukraine to destroy biological specimens within its biolabs to prevent spread of disease.

13th March 2022: Former Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard reports on a Department of Defence listing that 2 Ukranian biolabs have been under Russian control for several years.

Russia convenes meeting with UN Security Council to discuss possibility of biological weapons in Ukraine. Russia claims the United States has been funding gain-of-function research in Ukraine. US states “Ukraine does not have a biological weapons program. There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States.” Brazil and India also call for further investigations.

14th March 2022: China demands a “full account of US bio-military activities” in Ukraine.

15th March 2022: Zelensky makes a public address stating “no chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land.”

 

Even if the intent of these facilities is intended for studying how to better combat deadly pathogens in the event of biological warfare, the fact they are now in an active warzone should be of major concern. Furthermore, why were they being built and operated so close to Russia? If the pathogens being studied are of the danger described, why not conduct research on a remote island in the Pacific somewhere? Why did they continue to fund such projects even after the Crimean occupation in 2014 amid instability within the country? How do we know such pathogens won’t be utilised for nefarious means by either Russia or Ukraine, or by rogue individuals in the midst of the chaos?

Instead of being transparent, authorities are being secretive and dismissive, which will only create more distrust amongst a population at a time when we all need to be able to come together. The effort towards peace for the citizens of Ukraine will be made all the more difficult if both sides are unable to be open about the risk of biological warfare and find a way to mitigate such risks. Failure to do so will only draw more nations and people into the conflict and lead to unnecessary suffering.