The biological laboratories in Ukraine and other partner countries were never used to develop weapons, the US said on Monday.
The joint statement by the US State Department and the governments of nine countries, including Ukraine, was released months after Russia accused Washington of maintaining a secret overseas biological weapons program.
“Our governments have partnered openly and transparently through the Biological Threat Reduction Program, which is a part of the US Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program,” the statement read.
“These partnerships are devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes; they have nothing to do with weapons.”
- Apart from the US and Ukraine, the statement was released by Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and the Philippines.
The countries added that the purpose of the program is to “protect the health of humans and animals in our countries, including in the prevention, detection, and control of infectious disease outbreaks.”
- They said the importance of surveillance and response to infectious disease has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed it had found documents in Ukraine which showed that Ukrainian biological laboratories partnered with the US in research involving dangerous pathogens, such as plague and anthrax.
President Vladimir Putin said in April that Russia has evidence that the laboratories were used to develop “components of biological weapons.”
- Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky denied that Kiev was developing any weapons of mass destruction and said the laboratories were only conducting “ordinary” scientific research.