Vladimir Putin's Adviser Says U.S. Is Developing Biological Weapons Near Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief security adviser has said Moscow has "good reason to believe" the U.S. is developing biological weapons along the borders of Russia and China.

Nikolai Patrushev, who is the secretary of Russia's Security Council, made the comments during an interview with the newspaper Kommersant, in which journalist Elena Chernenko asked him about claims that China had "deliberately caused" the coronavirus pandemic.

Defending Beijing, Patrushev replied: "I suggest that you look at how more and more biological laboratories under U.S. control are growing considerably in the world and by a strange coincidence, mainly by the Russian and Chinese borders."

Russia shares land borders with 16 countries—the most of any nation in the world. China shares frontiers with 14 countries, as well as the special administrative region of Hong Kong. Patrushev did not name any specific countries, but said: "Americans help local scientists develop new ways to fight dangerous diseases."

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev (L) looks at President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow in 2015. He has accused the U.S. of developing chemical weapons by its borders. SERGEI KARPUKHIN/Getty Images

"We and our Chinese partners have questions. We are told that there are peaceful sanitary and epidemiological stations near our borders, but for some reason, they are more more reminiscent of Fort Detrick in Maryland, where Americans have been working in the field of military biology for decades."

He added that the authorities in those jurisdictions had "no real idea of ​​what is happening within their walls," and that there were outbreaks "uncharacteristic for these regions" in neighboring areas—although he did not specify any disease.

Putin's chief security advisor Nikolai Patrushev calls for collaboration between Russia and the US, but at the same time accuses the US of running bioweapons labs along the borders of Russia and China. /1https://t.co/JFXsYnNqTz

— Artyom Lukin (@ArtyomLukin) April 8, 2021

When asked directly if he believed the Americans are developing biological weapons there, Patrushev said: "We have good reason to believe that this is exactly the case."

A U.S. State Department spokesperson dismissed Patrushev's accusations as "groundless," telling Newsweek in a statement that it was "the latest in a long series of allegations about U.S. collaboration with foreign partners on public health matters.

"Russia is making efforts to deflect attention from their own non-compliance—as most recently seen with the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny with an illegal chemical weapon," the statement said.

"It is Russia, not the United States, that has a record of non-compliance with both the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention."

In the wide-ranging interview, Patrushev went on to reject accusations that Russia developed and used chemical weapons, including against the former spy Sergei Skripal and the Kremlin critic Navalny.

"There is zero evidence," said Patrushev, who was formerly the director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). "Only speculation."

Patrushev also criticized President Joe Biden's affirmative response in an ABC interview last month when he was asked if Putin was a "killer," comparing it to former British prime minister Winston Churchill's Fulton speech in March 1946 "in which he declared our country…an enemy."

"This marked the start of the Cold War," Patrushev said, adding that "we would really not want" any increase in hostilities. However, he also suggested that Biden's comment may not have been his fault.

"It cannot be ruled out that the American president was deliberately provoked to such a statement by circles interested in increasing tensions in our bilateral relations."

Meanwhile, the Kremlin did not expect an apology from the U.S, for the "killer" comment. "As experience shows, Americans, in principle, are not able to admit their guilt under any circumstances," Patrushev said.

Despite his repeated criticism of the U.S. in the interview, which included taking swipes at its COVID response and the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrushev was still optimistic that Moscow could work with Washington, citing the deal to extend the New START nuclear arms treaty as an example of co-operation.

"We believe that common sense will prevail in Washington and a substantive Russian-American dialogue can start on issues that, in principle, cannot be effectively resolved without constructive interaction between our countries."

The graphic below provided by Statista shows the tenure of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Putin Power Statista
Vladimir Putin's reign in Russia. Statista

This story has been updated to include a statement to Newsweek by the U.S. State Department.