Covert Work on Deadly Pathogens: How US Military Biolabs Infiltrated Ukraine
17:35 GMT 25.03.2022 (Updated: 20:55 GMT 19.10.2022)
© Flickr / Francisco Javier Argel
As the Russian Ministry of Defense revealed new information about the elusive US-funded biolabs it had discovered in eastern Ukraine amid its special operation in the nation, “bombshell” quality to the news was lent by the fact that a company linked to the high-risk biological research was founded by Hunter Biden, son of the US President Joe Biden.
A $2.1 billion-dollar operation exploring some of the deadliest viruses in at least 30 laboratories – under the patronage of the Pentagon and three private companies: this is the US’s illusive bio labs program.
Operating in 25 states, it employs civilians who have no accountability before Congress and can bypass the law due to the lack of direct oversight.
The program whose existence has been confirmed by none other than Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland at a Senate Committee hearing on March 8th has been dismissed by the majority of American mainstream media as “conspiracy” in a desperate effort to sweep under the rug one of America’s best kept secrets inside Ukraine.
8 March 2022, 23:18 GMT
And while the program itself is much larger – stretching across Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia – it is its Ukrainian branch that’s been causing anxiety in the Pentagon as well as the Biden administration for the fear that it might fall into the hands of Russian forces.
So what exactly has been going on in the US bio labs in Ukraine?
Covert Work on Deadly Viruses
The bio laboratories are operated by the DTRA military program. Furthermore, civilian personnel of these private companies can operate on behalf of the US government under diplomatic cover – a practice commonly resorted to by the CIA.
There are three such companies operating in Ukraine - Metabiota Inc., Southern Research Institute and Black&Veatch, with key posts held by former, and in some cases, current high-ranking military and intelligence officers.
Besides the Pentagon, these companies run federal biological research projects for the CIA and other government agencies. According to various sources, the DTRA finances about 15 biological laboratories in Ukraine, with data accumulated on ten of them:
1.Ternopol Regional Laboratory Center, Ternopil, Fedkovicha st. 13
2.Kherson diagnostic laboratory (Kherson regional laboratory center), Kherson, st. Uvarova, 3
3.Institute of Veterinary Medicine of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine
4.Vinnitsa diagnostic laboratory (Vinnitsa regional laboratory center), Vinnitsa, st. Malinovsky, 11
5.Transcarpathian diagnostic laboratory (Transcarpathian regional laboratory center), Uzhhorod, st. Sobranetskaya, 96
6.Dnepropetrovsk diagnostic laboratory (Dnepropetrovsk regional laboratory center), Dnepropetrovsk, Schmidt st., 26 / st. Philosophical, 39A
7.Dnepropetrovsk State Regional Laboratory of Veterinary Medicine, Dnepropetrovsk, Kirov Ave., 48
8.Lvov Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene Ministry of Health of Ukraine, Lvov, st. Green, 12
9.Lvov State Regional Laboratory of Veterinary medicine, Lviv, Promyslova st., 7
10.Lvov diagnostic laboratory (Lviv regional laboratory center), Lviv, st. Krupyarska, 27
US Firms Win Hefty Contracts
In accordance with an agreement between the US Department of Defense and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, dated 2005, the Kiev government is prohibited from disclosing any "sensitive" information about the American program. In the meantime Ukraine is under obligation to transfer dangerous pathogens from the labs on its territory to the Pentagon for further biological research, in return the US military is granted access to Ukraine’s state secrets related to the ongoing projects.
However, a certain US-funded organization, “The Science and Technology Center in Ukraine” (STCU), was set up the country even before the agreement in question. With its employees endowed with diplomatic status, the center officially supports the projects of scientists who previously worked on Soviet programs to create weapons of mass destruction.
Over the past 20 years, STCU has funneled $285 million in funding and managed an estimated 1850 projects worldwide, The work is officially carried out in line with the 1991-launched programme to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The stated goal is to ensure safe storage and destruction of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Since Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan destroyed their arsenal of nuclear warheads, on paper the program ended in 2013. However, in 2021, a bill was introduced in the US Congress to renew the programme ostensibly to the “reemerged threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation”. However, according to the Federal Public Procurement website, the programme never actually stopped its operation.
In 2013, one of the DTRA contractors for the programme's execution in Ukraine was Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC, with the contract worth $ 43.9 million.
In 2016, the STCU itself won a five-year DTRA contract to provide scientific and technical services to a tune of $10 million. Currently, there is no clarity regarding the scope of the STCU’s ongoing activity in Ukraine.
Location of US Biolaborations in Ukraine
Location of US Biolaborations in Ukraine
Deadly Outbreaks in Ukraine: The Worrysome Coincidence
While not all of the research is traceable to a tee, US Biolabs mushrooming across Ukraine soil and the American financing of STCU projects coincided with several outbreaks of serious infectious diseases in the country.
In January 2016 at least 20 Ukrainian soldiers died of a flu-like virus within a matter of two days in Kharkov, home to one of the US-run laboratories. More than 200 people were hospitalized at the time. By March 2016, 364 fatal cases were recorded throughout Ukraine. The cause of 81% of deaths was swine influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 – the same one that triggered a global pandemic of the disease in 2009.
More recently, another sudden outbreak of an infectious disease, Hepatitis A, was registered in the south-east of Ukraine – also the site of several Pentagon biolabs.
Last January, 37 residents of Nikolaev were hospitalized with jaundice, prompting local police to launch an investigation into suspected "deliberate infection with the human immunodeficiency virus and other incurable diseases.”
Three years ago, more than 100 people in that same city fell ill with cholera. In both cases, it was assumed that the cause was contaminated drinking water.
Back in the summer of 2017, 60 people were hospitalized with Hepatitis A in Zaporozhye – the cause of that outbreak remains unknown. In Odessa region, 19 children had the same diagnosis, while in November 2017, 27 cases were registered in Kharkov. The virus was discovered in potable water.
Ukraine witnessed an outbreak of cholera in 2011, with 33 people hospitalized with diarrhea. In 2014, more than 800 people were diagnosed with cholera, with cases spread out across the country.
While the outbreaks themselves are hardly evidence enough of any foul play, the diseases in question correlate curiously with the list of the dangerous pathogens the US laboratories have been researching. For example, the Southern Research Institute has a project on cholera, as well as viruses of influenza and Zika – all of them designated by the Pentagon as pathogens of military importance.
Besides the Southern Research Institute, laboratories in Ukraine are managed by two other companies, Black&Veatch and Metabiota.
Black & Veatch
Founded in 1915 in Kansas City, Missouri, Black & Veatch is currently headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. It specializes in mining, data centers, smart cities, banking and financial markets.
In 2020, Black & Veatch was the 7th largest company in the US, boasting a revenue of $3.7 billion in 2020.
The activity of Black & Veatch, with a web of over 100 offices around the world, since its inception has been inextricably linked with the US army and intelligence agencies.
Black&Veatch won two five-year DTRA contracts worth $198.7 million to build and manage bio laboratories in Ukraine, Germany, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Thailand, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Armenia.
The Federal Purchasing website states that in Ukraine alone Pentagon contractor Black&Veatch has DTRA commitments in line with the "Biological Joint Participation Program" worth $140 million since 2013, with work to a tune of $ 77 million yet to be completed.
In 2014, Metabiota, specializing in identifying, monitoring and analysing potential disease outbreaks, signed an $18.4 million federal contract as a subcontractor for Black & Veatch in Georgia and Ukraine.
Non-profit Southern Research first founded in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1941, as the Alabama Research Institute, conducts fundamental and applied research for commercial and non-profit organizations in four areas: development of medicine, energy, environment and engineering.
Throughout the past 70 years, Southern Research has been engaged in research activities linked with national defense. Its early programs for the US Department of Defense included the development of heat- resistant materials for rocket systems returning to Earth's atmosphere.
Over the decades, Southern Research expanded the direction of its work to the development of ballistic missile systems, hypersonic vehicles, etc.
21 November 2021, 17:11 GMT
Since 2008, Southern Research Institute has been the main subcontractor in Ukraine. In 2001 the firm became a Pentagon subcontractor for anthrax research. The main contractor was Advanced Biosystems, led at the time by Ken Alibek, a former Soviet microbiologist and expert in biological weapons from Kazakhstan, who left for the US in 1992.
Southern Research Institute is known for actively lobbying research programmes for US intelligence in Congress and the State Department at around the same time that bio laboratories began to emerge in Ukraine and other countries of the former USSR.
Thus, the company paid $250,000 to Senator Jeff Sessions (now -US Attorney General) for his lobbying services in 2008-2009, when the Institute won several federal contracts.
Overall, from 2006 until 2016, Southern Research Institute forked out some $1.28 million on lobbying to the Senate, House of Representatives, Department of State and Department of Defense.
Finally, Metabiota Inc. is the most private of the above-mentioned companies, linked to the biolabs in Ukraine. This could be explained by its links with the family of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, more specifically, his son, Hunter Biden.
Founded in 2008, Metabiota is commissioned by governments, insurance companies and livestock breeders to research and evaluate infectious disease threats, digitize global microbial data and actively avert the spread of diseases.
At the first stage, it was financed by Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners (RSTP), an offshoot of Rosemont Capital, an investment fund founded by Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, and Christopher Heinz, the stepson of former US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2009, in which Biden was managing director.
Hunter Biden’s shady former overseas dealings, which concealed a web of corruption in which he sought to use his father’s notoriety to secure unscrupulous business deals from Ukraine to Hong Kong, have swirled for years, but yielded no action on the part of the US or International authorities so far with an investigation still underway.
Metabiota is listed in the archived portfolios of RSTP, with financial reports showing RSTP covered the first round of financing for the company to a tune of $30 million.
Since 2014, Metabiota has been a partner of the EcoHealth Alliance within the PREDICT Project of the project of USAID's Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program, which aims to carry out global surveillance for pathogens to ostensibly " identify and prevent the threat of new emerging infectious diseases”.
However, as part of these efforts, researchers from Metabiota, EcoHealth Alliance and Wuhan Institute of Virology jointly conducted a study on infectious diseases of bats in China.
© AFP 2023 / HECTOR RETAMALAn aerial view shows the P4 laboratory (L) at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 17, 2020
An aerial view shows the P4 laboratory (L) at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 17, 2020
© AFP 2023 / HECTOR RETAMAL
Researchers from the EcoHealth Alliance and Metabiota also collaborated over controversial projects on how to "live safely with bats", and research linking emerging infectious disease outbreaks with trade in wild animals.
Researchers from Metabiota were also listed along with EcoHealth Alliance staff in a 2014 study on the dissemination of the Nipah henipavirus, Ebola monitoring study in 2014, herpes study in 2015.
In April 2021, USAID announced a new taxpayer-funded project, led by the EcoHealth Alliance, to track new infections diseases with pandemic potential.
Metabiota, whose researchers were listed as authors of articles dated June 2021 related to coronavirus surveillance in Africa, are also linked to the new project spearheaded by EcoHealth Alliance.
Metabiota has long been connected to a well-known controversial CIA front, In-Q-Tel, created in 1999 as "the first state-sponsored venture capital company”.
In-Q-Tel is an American non-profit venture capital firm based in Arlington, Virginia, founded to boost national security by "connecting the Central Intelligence Agency and US intelligence community with venture-backed entrepreneurial companies". The firm, founded by Norm Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Gilman Louis, who was the first CEO of In Q-Tel, is considered a trendsetter in the information technology industry.
In-Q-Tel received funding for at least $120 million in 2016, mainly from the CIA, but also the NSA, FBI and US Department of Defense
While In-Q-Tel operates partially publicly, there is a shroud of secrecy over its products and their use, with the most famous known ones being analytical systems for Palantir Technologies data analysis and encrypted messages sharing application.
With documents in hand, Russia addressed the damning evidence pertaining to the US-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
On 11 March the UN Security Council gathered for a special meeting convened at Russia’s request to discuss the issue. However, the UN Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, said the UN was “not aware” of any biological weapons program in Ukraine.
Washington was quick to denounce Russia’s claims, with Ned Price, spokesperson for the Department of State, accusing it of “inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own actions in Ukraine.”
Russia will demand an explanation of the involvement of Hunter Biden, the son of the American President, in funding pathogen research in Ukraine, said the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
"...This is very sensitive information - both for us and for the whole world. Of course, we will demand explanations. And we are not alone in it: you know that China has already demanded clarifications from the US, urging them to make this situation transparent to the world..." emphasized Peskov.