The Destroyed Ukraine Bioagents: Dangerous or Benign?

Jeffrey Kaye
20 min readMar 25, 2022
Photo by USAG Public Affairs

Russia’s announcement that it had documentation that Ukrainian biological laboratories, largely funded by the U.S. Defense Department, had harbored “components of biological weapons” and “stockpiles of dangerous pathogens” created a propaganda circus in the press. The United States and Ukraine vigorously denied there were any such pathogens, even though public source documentation argued otherwise.

This article will look at what we know about the documented bioagents and pathogens held in the Ukraine biolabs, based on both Russian and Western sources. The truth about such alleged biological weapons (BW) turns out to be more nuanced than reported by the press — some of which accounts are full of misinformation — and impossible to assess fully without some knowledge of the history of Russian, American, and even Japanese biological warfare programs.

On March 11, the Reuters news agency reported that the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations, had “advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens housed in the country’s public health laboratories to prevent ‘any potential spills’ that would spread disease among the population.”

News about biological substances being destroyed at Ukrainian biological laboratories was used as propaganda by both Russia and the United States. The Russians found much to raise suspicions about illegal biological warfare research occurring at the labs, given the history of U.S. biowarfare research, while the United States maintained that nothing untoward was happening at the labs. It charged Putin’s claims of U.S. BW operations in Ukraine as delusional.

A March 8 statement by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “Documents were obtained from employees of Ukrainian biological laboratories about emergency disposal of particularly dangerous pathogens of plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases, carried out on February 24. In particular, we are talking about the Ukrainian Health Ministry order on prompt disposal of all stockpiles of dangerous pathogens, sent to all bio laboratories.”

I have not seen documents that specifically describe any destruction of plague, anthrax, cholera or the other diseases mentioned above, although it is known that tularemia…