28.10.22 War Review

Russia Has a Developed Infrastructure for Biological Weapons Production, Which Can Be Used in the War with Ukraine

In July, Russian representatives at the UN accused Ukraine and the United States of violating the Biological Weapons Convention for the fourth time this year. However, Western experts express concern that these statements may indicate that Russia has its own biological weapons and creates an information background for their possible use. Even though biological weapons may seem like the attributes of a science fiction novel, the influential American Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which focuses on discussing technological threats to mankind, warns that the USSR and then the Russian Federation have never stopped developing biological weapons, and the threat of their use is more realistic than the nuclear ones and can lead to equally tragic consequences.

The Soviet narrative of biological experiments being conducted in the United States laboratories to create biological weapons of mass destruction has existed since the early 1980s. At that time, the KGB publicly accused the United States of developing the AIDS virus for military purposes.

Similar accusations began to reappear in international media in the early 2020s: pro-Russian media accused American bio laboratories of operating in the former Soviet territory, including establishing a springboard for the possible use of biological weapons on Russian territory. In 2015, the president of the Kurchatov Institute, Mikhail Kovalchuk, who is close to Putin, told in a speech addressed to the Federation Council that the United States was actively developing tools for biological control of humanity, working on population reduction in other countries and even creating "a fundamentally new subspecies of Homo sapiens, a service human". All this served as an argument to justify the need for similar developments in Russia aimed at genetic editing.

The researchers point out that Putin himself, who has been actively supporting the development of biological and genetic technologies since 2018, has long held the same position. For example, in 2019, the Federal Scientific and Technical Program for the development of genetic technologies for 2019-2027 was approved, with over 127 billion rubles budgeted for its funding. Experts estimate the total state funding for developing biological weapons at 230 billion. The state program alone will create three genomic centers, at least 65 bio laboratories, and 36 gene technologies by 2027 — all this under the supervision of the Kurchatov Institute. In the same 2019, a decree which prescribed "the implementation of genetic passportization of the population" was issued. Russia has managed to retain not only the Soviet rhetoric on global biological security but also the technology to develop bioweapons. The USSR began to create biological weapons in the early 1970s, and by the 1980s, more than 65,000 people were working in biotechnology institutes and factories. In 1996-2005, the government's bioweapons sector was completely reoriented towards national security, which mainly focused on creating biological warfare tools. Some experts believe that Russia not only continues to develop bioweapons but also uses them in military conflicts, and these are not micro pathogens but some types of gas and psychotropic drugs.

Accusations against Ukraine that it is producing genetic weapons on its territory, i.e., means to cause harm at the genetic level, create an information background and justification for the possible use or testing of biological weapons by Russia itself, analysts fear. Although most scientists consider genetic weapons to be fiction rather than reality, "even if genetic weapons are a dead end, there are many ways to use genetic engineering to improve existing biological weapons or develop entirely new ones," experts say.