More stonewalling by the White House and US media about the Ukrainian biolabs

On Friday, the Biden White House and US corporate media continued blocking any investigation into what Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the United States Victoria Nuland called during congressional testimony earlier in the week, “biological research facilities” in Ukraine.

State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria J. Nuland speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, Jan. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

After three days of silence, the New York Times published an article entitled “Theory About U.S.-Funded Bioweapons Labs in Ukraine Is Unfounded” on Friday that reported on Nuland’s comments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Times started off by stating that there is “no evidence to support the claims” by Russian state media that the US has been funding biological weapons labs in Ukraine. The Times then says that “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department” have all unequivocally denied the charges as though these statements are enough to back up the claims of no evidence.

Then, the Times says, “There are biological laboratories inside Ukraine, and since 2005, the United States has provided backing to a number of institutions to prevent the production of biological weapons.” Instead of taking this information as the starting point for questioning the supposed peaceful aims of the Pentagon, the Times goes on to repeat verbatim the responses of the US to charges that the Defense Department is operating biological weapons labs.

After quoting Victoria Nuland’s statement before Congress—which included expressions of concern that the Russians may gain control of the biolab “research materials”—the Times repeats the explanation provided by the State Department on Thursday. These were that Nuland was referring to “diagnostic and biodefense laboratories during her testimony,” that these labs are “different from biological weapons facilities” and that “biodefense laboratories” are for combatting “biological threats” in Ukraine.

The Washington Post carried a similar report on Friday that extensively quoted a statement by Zelensky who said, “No chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land.” The Ukrainian president said that the biological laboratories are “engaged in ordinary science … not military technology” and then said the allegations meant that Russia was planning to carry out a biological attack on Ukraine. “They have already done such things in other countries … and they will do so again,” Zelensky said.

The United Nations Security Council met on Friday at the request of Russia to discuss allegations of military biological activities by the US in Ukraine. Russia’s UN representative, Vasily Nebenzya, gave a report to the Security Council which made a series of assertions about the labs in Ukraine.

Nebenzya alleged that Russia had discovered “the truly shocking fact of an emergency cleanup by the Kyiv regime of the traces of a military biological program which is being implemented by Kyiv with support of the US Department of Defense.”

The Russian military, he claimed, “now has documents which confirm that on the territory of Ukraine there was a network consisting of at least 30 biological laboratories in which very dangerous biological experiments are being conducted aimed at strengthening the pathogenic qualities of the plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera and other lethal diseases using synthetic biology.”

Responding to the Russian UN report, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield gave a perfunctory reply. “Russia is attempting to use the Security Council to legitimize disinformation and deceive people to justify President Putin’s war of choice against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”

Thomas-Greenfield then repeated the White House position that “Ukraine does not have a biological weapons program, and there are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States—not near Russia’s borders, not anywhere.”

If all of what Thomas-Greenfield presented at the UN is true, then why didn’t Victoria Nuland say “No” when Sen. Marco Rubio asked her in the Senate hearing, “Are there chemical and biological weapons labs in Ukraine?”

Given the reactionary and bloody invasion of Ukraine by Russia, there is no doubt that the claims that the US has been running biological warfare labs there are being used as a justification by the Kremlin for its military operation.

However, this does not excuse the corporate media and publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post from acting like a media arm of the White House and the Pentagon and refusing to ask Nuland what she was talking about when she said the US was concerned about the “research materials” falling into the hands of the Russians.

This should be the starting point of the demand that details about biolabs being operated under the direction of the Pentagon be fully disclosed to the American people, but this is the opposite of the position taken by the major US news outlets.

Reuters reported on Friday afternoon that the World Health Organization had “advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens housed in the country’s public health laboratories to prevent ‘any potential spills’ that would spread disease among the population.”

The report also says that biosecurity experts are warning that Russian bombardment of Ukrainian cities “have raised the risk of an escape of disease-causing pathogens, should any of those facilities be damaged.” Reuters said that Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and Washington D.C. did not respond to requests for comment.