MOSCOW, March 17./TASS/. The Pentagon has invested $1.6 million to study ways to transmit diseases from bats to humans in Ukraine and Georgia, Chief of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops Igor Kirillov said on Thursday.
According to him, the research documents showed that "the work was being done on the basis of a lab in Kharkov jointly with the notorious Lugar Center in Tbilisi. "The Pentagon spent $1.6 million for its implementation in Ukraine and in Georgia, the bulk of which was received by Ukraine as the main contractor," Kirillov said.
"The documents received by the Russian Defense Ministry indicate that the research in this area is systematic, having been carried out since 2009 at the earliest, under the direct supervision of US specialists as part of its P-382, P-444 and P-568 projects," he went on to say.
According to Kirillov, the head of the office of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency within the Department of Defense at the US Embassy in Kiev, Joanna Wintrol, was among the curators of this activity. During the implementation of this project, six families of viruses (including coronaviruses) and three types of pathogenic bacteria (causing the plague, brucellosis and leptospirosis) were isolated, he said.
Research on bird flu ‘getting out of control’
Within the Flu-Fly-Way project, the Kharkov Institute of Veterinary Medicine studied wild birds as vectors for the transmission of highly pathogenic avian flu. "At the same time, the conditions were assessed under which the transmission process could get out of control, cause economic damage and pose risks to food security," Kirillov said.
According to him, the documents found by the Russian Armed Forces confirm the involvement of this institute in collecting strains of bird flu viruses that have a high epidemic potential and can be transmitted between species.
He stressed that the damage to Russia from avian flu amounted to more than 1.7 billion rubles. As a result, six million heads of poultry were destroyed. In Europe, the losses of the agricultural sector amounted to about two billion euros.
Diseases in Donbass
Kirillov also noted that the number of TB cases caused by new multi-drug-resistant strains grew in Donbass in 2018. This data was confirmed by the Russian sanitary watchdog. In particular, over 70 cases of rapid fatalities were reported during an outbreak in the area of the Peski settlement. "This may indicate a deliberate infection or an accidental leakage of the pathogen from a biolab located in Ukraine," he stressed.