On Sunday, former House representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard released a video calling for the Biden administration to work with Russia and other parties to establish a ceasefire in Ukraine so dangerous pathogens held by US-funded biological research labs in the country could be destroyed.
Despite the undeniable evidence that there are Pentagon-linked biological labs in Ukraine, any concern about the pathogens has been labeled “Russian propaganda” by hawks in Washington. In response to Gabbard’s video, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) labeled her as “treasonous.”
“Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda. Her treasonous lies may well cost lives,” Romney wrote on Twitter.
Gabbard’s video also elicited a response from Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of the leading proponents of the idea that the US should impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would mean direct conflict with Russia and risk nuclear war. “Actual Russian propaganda. Traitorous,” Kinzinger said.
In response to Romney, Gabbard challenged Romney to provide evidence that what she said was not true. “Senator Romney, please provide evidence that what I said is untrue and treasonous. If you cannot, you should do the honorable thing: apologize and resign from the Senate,” she said.
Gabbard also presented evidence of the US’s involvement with Ukrainian biolabs, including a Pentagon fact sheet dated March 11 that details US funding of the facilities. The Pentagon funds labs in Ukraine through its Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The fact sheet said since 2005, the US has “invested” $200 million in “supporting 46 Ukrainian laboratories, health facilities, and diagnostic sites.”
Gabbard’s concern about the pathogens being released in Ukraine is also shared by Pentagon officials involved with the DTRA. In a February 25 article published by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Robert Pope, the director of the DTRA’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, warned that the fighting in Ukraine could lead to dangerous pathogens being released from the labs.
Pope said some of the labs could contain biological weapons left over from the Soviet Union while insisting the facilities are not capable of developing such pathogens. According to the article, the US government has worked with 26 such biological research facilities in Ukraine. Pope and other US officials maintain that the DTRA’s work in Ukraine is meant to eliminate the threat of Soviet-era weapons of mass destruction.
It’s not clear exactly what pathogens have been held in the labs. Russia says it has documents that show the Ukrainian Health Ministry ordered the destruction of samples of plague, cholera, anthrax, and other pathogens, although they have not been verified. But the World Health Organization bolstered Russia’s case last week by saying it advised the Ukrainian Health Ministry to destroy “high-threat pathogens” around the time Russia invaded.
Russia brought the issue of the US-funded labs to the UN Security Council on Friday, infuriating Washington. China has joined Russia in calling on the US to explain its involvement in the labs, and said the UN should properly address the issue. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said China’s position is “disturbing” and suggested any country that gives “credibility” to Russia’s claims essentially backs its invasion.