Ukrainian Bio Labs: What’s Real and What’s Not

Filed under “Notes On The Collapse”. Image is of the only real Ukrainian biological Labrador we could find that isn’t on the Russian side of the border.


Tulsi Gabbard has been making headlines again, this time for her ongoing feud with Mitt Romney over Ukrainian biolabs. A lot of people listen to Tulsi and even more to Mitt, and it appears that neither is acknowledging the whole truth here.

So let’s talk about what’s real and what’s not with respect to Ukrainian bio labs.

Before we begin, here are three basic truths about biowarfare:

  1. The development of bioweapons is against a treaty signed by almost every nation in the world.
  2. In practice, several nations and even more non-state actors have the capacity to develop them. These include the U.S.A. and Russia.
  3. To an outsider, it’s difficult to distinguish between research into bioweapons and biodefense.

The present world situation is, simply, that Putin is engaged in a war for which he’s desperately seeking some sort of ex post facto justification. Nobody could examine the relative strengths of Ukraine’s and Russia’s military capacity and deduce that Ukraine posed a direct threat; they’ve also voluntarily handed their nuclear weapons to Russia. But if he could produce compelling evidence that they were engaged in illicit bioweapons research, it might work; “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” was the justification for invading Iraq, after all.

Unfortunately for Putin, such evidence would need to be fabricated.

Two nations that have access to weaponized biotech right now are Russia and the United States. It’s plausible that Ukraine might have attempted research into simple bioweapons countermeasures on the justifiable fear that Russia, which has ignored their treaty obligations, might have unleashed aerosolized anthrax during any time in the past eight years. Certainly, they’d have been lax to have failed to try to monitor for it.

To research advanced treatments for deadly pathogens, it is necessary to own and experiment with live samples of them. That’s why smallpox is still alive in a freezer deep in the bowels of Ft. Detrick. It’s also the reason there’s a thirty-mile biological research corridor between there and Washington, D.C., along I-270, in an area with massively redundant power supplies, readily controllable transportation hubs, and actual Cold War style disaster bunkers. The same labs that produce COVID vaccines would do the same with an anthrax attack.

Note that none of this is secret. Each of these facilities has massive signs, well-guarded gateposts, and the occasional anti-missile battery. You can find them on Google Maps; you can see them from the street. No effort whatsoever is expended trying to hide them, in obvious counterpoint to the massive amount of military-level security that’s clearly visible as a defensive presence.

Which is why any statement to the effect that the Pentagon might be funding bioweapons research near a militarily contested border anywhere in the world is patently absurd. There is no way any such facility could be secured against attack either by government or private actor. It’s also extremely difficult to attempt to conceal the sort of power redundancy that would be required.

I want to underline the potential threat here by private actors: In case of escape, the genetic footprints of each lab strain are tagged and logged. Ukrainian research anthrax, if it exists, is unique. That makes it identifiable. And that makes it capable of being captured from a research facility and weaponized, and then released in a way that muddles blame. The market value of this would be obscene because of the traceability.

We’ve been funding bio labs worldwide for two years without any quibble, for dealing with COVID. Before that, weaponized anthrax strains were known to be in Soviet/Russian hands, and stolen homebrew plague kits have been recovered from terrorist camps for forty years now. Global research into treatments and mitigation has been ongoing since the 70s, and it’s a worthwhile place for the Pentagon to put its money.

This is not bioweapons research. This is plague prevention.

The difficulty from out here in the Real World is that we have no ability to distinguish plague prevention from bioweapons labs. We’re not competent; we lack the decades of specialized training that would be required. The developmental stages of, say, a portable aerosolyzed dispenser would look to us a lot like normal lab gear, and vice-versa.

As a result, any justification Putin may attempt to manufacture would require only the intact capture of a strain of research anthrax already known to be in Ukrainian hands, and then combined with a few easily manufactured or planted props.

This brings us to Undersecretary Nuland’s testimony before Congress on the 8th of March, something conspiracy theorists have made much of, as it can be easily seen to support their pet conspiracy theories — though, again, only to a person prepared to ignore the myriad factors militating against them. RT and other Russian government media organs immediately seized on Rubio’s question and Nuland’s answer as proof that American research has been taking place there. In point of fact, what she said was that Ukraine has bio research labs, and that the United States has taken a role in advising or assisting in their dismantling ahead of Russian troop advances.

No matter how many times or in how many different ways the pro-Russian propaganda mills continue to harp on the existence of Ukrainian bioweapons, it doesn’t make it any more plausible. The concept that the United States has been assisting with or even funding such efforts is and always will be simply ludicrous. Had Obama been so stupid as to have funded it, Trump surely would have revealed it; had Trump, Biden would have. The very concept is absurd, and the idea that it could have been kept secret is mind-bogglingly improbable.

To both Romney and Gabbard, and to everyone looking for truth from them, what I would advise is this: Don’t race to condemn what you don’t understand, couldn’t distinguish, and above all probably wouldn’t have done any differently had you been in charge of the decisions that were made at the time. There’s precious little moral clarity to be found here. And it’s a fool’s errand searching for it in politicians.

If what you just read pisses you off, that’s not because it’s wrong. People are wrong every day and it doesn’t get to you. If you’re upset by this article, it’s because deep down you’re afraid it’s true.

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