MOSCOW – Works on the development of dangerous pathogenic agents “may be” conducted at US laboratories outside the United States, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday. The Russian Foreign Ministry, in her words, notes the United States’ bigger biological presence beyond its borders, in particular in former Soviet republics, TASS reported.
“We cannot rule out that the Americans use such reference laboratories in third countries to develop and modify various pathogenic agents, including in military purposes,” she commented.
The diplomat recalled that the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Tbilisi, a Georgia-based US biological laboratory, is an official part of the US military system of global infectious disease control.
“Moreover, according to recent reports, top-ranking Pentagon officials have recently visited it to offer the Georgian authorities to expand the range of research,” she noted.
“Naturally, we cannot ignore the fact that the Americans are developing infrastructure with hazardous biological potential in the direct proximity to the Russian borders,” Zakharova stressed.
She added it was counterproductive and irresponsible of Washington to suspend funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) and accuse it of inefficiency in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
“We consider the United States’ attempts to accuse the WHO of inefficiency and non-transparency and to place the entire responsibility for what is going on in that country on the organization absolutely counterproductive and irresponsible,” she said, adding, “It is utterly wrong now to distance oneself from the WHO and accuse it of everything.”
According to Zakharova, all the accusations against the WHO of passivity, non-transparency and evil intent are absolutely groundless.
“We have already shared the chronology of the WHO’s actions — it is available on the ministry’s website. After receiving primary data, the WHO began to act quite actively, announcing all the steps it was taking,” the diplomat stated.
“At all the pandemic development phases, the WHO was acting under its mandate, in strict compliance with the policies of its member nations, relying on research data,” she continued.
Zakharova noted that Washington is speaking about the WHO as though it has nothing to do with it, although two WHO director-general’s assistants are Americans. Moreover, the Americans are widely represented in all WHO divisions and expert committees, including the emergency committee.
She also recalled that the WHO’s coordinating role in combating the pandemic is formalized in the United Nations General Assembly consensus-based resolution and the final declaration of the Group of Twenty summit.
“The United States actively supported this consensus and we proceed from the fact that it is the official position of the state,” Zakharova said.
The Russian diplomat noted that being a member of the WHO executive board the United States could have initiated back in February a special resolution to raise the WHO’s potential to make it more effective in emergency situations.
“Obviously, a detailed analysis of the WHO response steps in the coronavirus situation will be needed to decide on how to boost its efficiency. As people say, there is always room for improvement,” she added.