MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. The Pentagon, via Ukraine’s Science and Technology Center (STCU), was assessing the conditions which would cause the uncontrolled spread of bird flu in the Azov-Black Sea region, Chief of Russia’s Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Force Igor Kirillov said.
"Directly in the interests of the American military agency through the Ukrainian Science and Technology Center, the P-444 project was implemented with its main goal being the monitoring of avian influenza among wild birds in the Azov-Black Sea region," he said on Friday during a briefing on analyzing the documents on the US’ military-biological activity.
"As part of the project, it was assessed under what conditions the virus’ transmission would become uncontrolled, cause economic damage and create risks for food security," the military official noted.
Kirillov emphasized that the Russian Defense Ministry had repeatedly warned of the risks of implementing the Pentagon’s military-biological projects, those aiming to study the possibility of spreading economically significant infections via carriers including migratory birds. "The said concerns are related to Ukraine’s unique geographic location with the migratory routes of over 270 species of migrating birds passing over its territory; these birds serve as a natural reservoir for such dangerous diseases as the highly pathogenic influenza and other infectious diseases," he explained.
According to his data, over the past three years, damages caused by the bird flu in Russia have surpassed 4.5 bln rubles (over $58.5 mln) with more than 10 mln domestic fowl eliminated. In European countries, the agricultural industry lost about €3 bln due to various diseases. According to specialists, if earlier the bird flu used to be a seasonal disease in the European region, currently its outbreaks are being recorded all year round. Additionally, the World Health Organization is regularly documenting cases of cross-species transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza with the development of the infection process and human mortality of up to 50%. This year alone, four such cases were recorded in Chile, Cambodia and China.
"This provides a fresh outlook on the risks of implementing the UP-4 project which involved collecting strains with high epidemic potential and capable of crossing the interspecies barrier on Ukrainian territory," Kirillov said.