Despite numerous publications about military research in secret US biology laboratories in the post-Soviet space and demands to place their activities under strict international control, there is, unfortunately, no qualitative improvement of the situation in this matter. Therefore, it is not surprising that at the recent 22nd Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State, the Chinese president additionally drew the attention of the association’s member countries to the need “to effectively meet the challenges in biosecurity, and other non-traditional security domains”. As part of the Samarkand Declaration of 2022, SCO countries were urged to strictly adhere to the Biological Weapons Convention and to adopt a protocol to it that provides for an effective verification mechanism.
After Russia initiated the special operation to denazify Ukraine, alongside publicly exposing the illegal US biological weapons development activities in secret biolabs, the Pentagon sought to move unfinished programs in Ukraine to other countries in the post-Soviet region as quickly as possible. This particularly pertains to the territory of the states of Central Asia (CA) and Eastern Europe.
Recently, Russia Today journalists have found out that the US has decided to study the deadly anthrax in a bio-lab in Kyrgyzstan. In this regard, the US Department of Health & Human Services plans to fund this work and allocate about a quarter of a million dollars for this purpose. According to the tender published on the procurement portal of the US government, the regional hospital in the city of Osh in the south of the republic will become the base for these tests. At the same time, the publication reminded that Kyrgyzstan and the United States are negotiating a new agreement between the two countries in the field of US biological laboratories in the Republic of Kazakhstan, but the nuances and points of the future document are hidden from the public.
Very disturbing information in this regard has recently come from Uzbekistan, where, according to the Telegram channel, the active work of US representatives to create a powerful military-biological cluster in that country is confirmed. This is particularly evidenced by the growing “work” in Uzbekistan in recent years on the part of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). On this issue, the publication has prepared an infographic on US military-biological activities in Uzbekistan, which clearly indicates the potential damage to the security of the countries of Central Asia, the Russian Federation and China, the main political opponents of the White House.
There is also information that the United States and the United Kingdom continue to conduct joint research at the Kazakhstan Central Reference Laboratory (CRL) in Almaty. In early 2022, the United Kingdom shipped a large number of samples of virus strains, laboratory equipment, diagnostic instruments, etc. through the British shipping company WN Shipping the first half of the year.
Kazakhstan’s CRL in Almaty was built with Pentagon funds and has a third level of biohazard because a repository for particularly dangerous infectious agents is located on the premises of this facility, which are examined by staff of specialized laboratories for plague, cholera, zoonotic bacterial and natural viral focal infections. According to Kazakhstan’s official information, no US military experts (biologists and virologists) reportedly work at CRL, and as of January 1, 2020, it is fully funded and owned exclusively by Kazakhstan’s budget. However, in reality, this object is not directly funded by the United States, but through a system of American grants, i.e. the research is carried out in the interest of the United States under a certain program of the Pentagon. And apparently this “cooperation” does not stop today.
This is confirmed, in particular, by the fact that on November 5, 2021, the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development of Kazakhstan initiated the process of public discussion on the construction project of the BSL-4 laboratory for work with especially dangerous strains and an underground storage facility for a collection of dangerous and especially dangerous strains in the village of Gvardeisky in the Zhambyl region, the construction of which is planned for 2025. The fourth biological safety code BSL-4 (Biosafety Level 4) of this planned biological laboratory alone indicates that the facility poses a high risk to people and society of the viruses being studied, most of which are simply impossible to handle.
The Kyrgyz public has already reacted very critically to this project. Protesters have gathered in front of the US Embassy, outraged that the lab will be built near the border with Kyrgyzstan, just 90 kilometers from Bishkek. Kyrgyz experts, together with the International Association for the Control of Biological Research, sent a letter this summer to the president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, asking that the construction of a biological laboratory in the border region be stopped.
Obviously, Washington is eager to preserve the countries of Central Asia as a testing ground for its military biological research. Hence the US efforts to develop similar projects in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. At the same time, Washington has an increased interest in Tashkent and Alma-Ata, as these two countries have better developed infrastructure and more qualified personnel compared to other Central Asian states. The increased US interest in Uzbekistan is also due to the fact that the country is not a member of the CSTO, which gives Washington more freedom of action.
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.