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Ukraine was given $1.6 mln to study how migratory birds transmit infections — ministry

More than 60 scientists from the US, Ukraine and Georgia were involved in the studies

MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. Funding for a US project in Ukrainian biolabs to study transmission of infections by migratory birds totaled $1.6 million, according to a slide presentation for a news conference by Igor Kirillov, head of the radiation, chemical and biological protection forces at the Russian armed forces.

The presentation shows that the project was implemented in 2018-2020. Allocations reached $1.3 million. The slides show migration routes of wild ducks from southern Ukraine as tracked by GPS.

"During spring migration some of the birds migrated to the northeast," the materials said. "The maximum distance is 2,000 km, some birds covered the distance in 3-4 days."

"At the time of nesting, the birds were in Russia," the documents showed.

The main direction of duck migration in the spring is east and north, while a small portion of the birds migrate to the west and south, the papers said.

The slides indicate that 42 outbreaks of the H5N1 subtype (the highly pathogenic "bird flu") were recorded in Crimea, Kherson, Odessa and Sumy in 2005-2006, and three more outbreaks in Crimea in 2008. The virus affected chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, mute swans and cormorants.

Allocations for a project to study the spectrum of pathogens that are spread by bats reached $1.3 million. More than 60 scientists from the US, Ukraine and Georgia were involved in the studies, which are scheduled to run from 2020-2023. The program was aimed at identifying new viral, bacterial pathogens that are significant for human and animal health in bats in Ukraine and Georgia.

On Sunday, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters that the Russian armed forces, during a special operation in Ukraine, uncovered facts showing a US-funded military biological program was being implemented there. According to the general, information obtained from the employees of Ukrainian biological labs indicated that on February 24 there was an urgent destruction of extremely dangerous pathogens for the following diseases: plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases.

On February 24 Putin announced a special military operation in response to a request for help by the heads of the Donbass republics. He stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories, but aims to demilitarize and denazify the country. The Russian Defense Ministry said that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, but are incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure, therefore there are no threats to the civilian population.