© Getty Images / Markiian LyseikoFILE PHOTO:The biohazard symbol is seen at a bacteriological laboratory at the Lvov Regional Laboratory Centre in Lvov, Ukraine, November 9, 2020
As Russian troops entered Ukraine, the government in Kiev ordered the "emergency destruction" of pathogens including plague and anthrax at US-funded laboratories near the Russian border
, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow claimed on Sunday. Earlier rumors that the Russian military was targeting US-run biolabs were written off as conspiracy theories, but the ministry has promised to back up its claims with documents."We have received documentation from employees of Ukrainian biolaboratories on the emergency destruction on February 24 of especially dangerous pathogens of plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases,"
read a statement from the ministry.
The statement accused the "Kiev regime" of conducting an "emergency cleansing" to hide evidence
of the supposed biological weapons program, which the ministry claimed was funded by the US, and involved the production of "biological weapons components" at at least two laboratories in the cities of Poltava and Kharkov, both of which have seen intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in recent days
The documents published by the ministry purportedly include an order from the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to destroy the pathogens, and lists of the germs in question.
RT can not independently verify the authenticity of these documents. Russia's Defense Ministry said that they are currently being analyzed by radiation, chemical and biological protection specialists.
"In the near future we will present the results of the analysis," the ministry said, adding that it believes the documents will prove that Ukraine and the US were violating Article 1 of the UN Biological Weapons Convention
. The US, Ukraine and Russia are among more than 180 parties to this treaty, and under Article 1 of the agreement, all parties agree "never under any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile, acquire, or retain" biological weapons.
As of the moment of this article's publication, Washington has not commented
on the ministry's claims, and neither has Kiev.
In the initial days of Russia's military offensive last month, claims circulated
online that Russia was targeting western-funded biolabs with missile strikes.
These allegations were never verified and were derided by western sources as conspiracy theories
, although the Pentagon has publicly stated that it works with the Ukrainian government to "consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern in Ukrainian government facilities," for "peaceful research and vaccine development," according
to the US embassy in Kiev.