On June 22-23, 2023, Sochi (that’s in Russia for my fellow Americans) hosted the fourth international conference “Global Biosecurity Challenges: Problems and Solutions”, one of several global initiatives organized around the UN’s Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
The summit was headed by Russia’s Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Rospotrebnadzor), with support from Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
The conference’s website (in English) explained:
Its goal is a discussion regarding strengthening of international biological security. More than 150 participants from 70 countries as well as international and civil society organizations and academia are expected to participate the event. […]
The Sochi meeting is a platform for an open professional discussion of all countries and organizations interested in ensuring indivisible biological security based on respect for the sovereignty and interests of states in this area.
The Sochi conference will allow analyzing current threats to biological security in the world and developing proposals to counteract them in order to protect health and ensure sustainable development.
The delegates will discuss the current global and regional biosecurity risks, experience in responding to infectious threats and new scientific opportunities to ensure biosecurity.
The conference also discussed “strengthening supranational mechanisms to reduce the threat of the development and use of biological and toxin weapons”—which of course is a very important subject worthy of international dialogue and cooperation. If progress was made towards achieving this goal, we should all be glad.
And while it’s charming that the conference stressed the importance of “respect for the sovereignty and interests of states”, I’m not sure if UN-led global health projects have a good track record in this field? But that’s just my opinion.
The conference’s website has an “administrative circular” revealing some interesting details about who was in attendance. There is a section in this document that includes a list of liaison officers for various delegations—although it appears to be an incomplete list.
My assumption is that some countries didn’t want to give contact details to the media, which is standard for these sorts of events.
The United States is a signatory of the BWC, but I can’t confirm if Washington sent an official delegation. (If anyone knows, I’ll update this article accordingly. I’ll also keep digging around in hopes of answering this query. My current assessment, judging from a lack of US media reports, would be no.)
Here’s what we do know, though: Johns Hopkins University dispatched a “health” expert(s). Not great.
Also present: Representatives from the WHO, as well as this organization’s Europe Office.
Obviously, participants were required to adhere to Rospotrebnadzor’s very safe and effective “measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” As the agency’s website detailed:
In accordance with the requirements in force in the Russian Federation to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus infection:
– foreign citizens arriving to participate in the Conference must have a certificate (in Russian or English) when crossing the border of the Russian Federation, which confirms the negative result of the PCR test for COVID-19, carried out at least 72 hours before arrival in the Russian Federation. Upon entering the Russian Federation, sanitary and quarantine control will be carried out;
– the body temperature of all participants of the events will be monitored at the entrance to the building (persons with a body temperature of more than 37.1 degrees Celsius are not allowed);
– the premises are cleaned with the use of disinfectants active against viruses (according to the instructions for the product);
– installed air disinfection units allowed to work in the presence of people;
– the arrangement / seating arrangement of personnel, participants, representatives of the media and other categories of persons who are simultaneously on the site of the event is organized, taking into account social distance;
– hand disinfectors present at the entrance to the building, at the main conference room, dining rooms, etc.;
– ensure the use of PPE by participants, organizers and attendants throughout the entire duration of the event.
So: Negative PCR “tests”, some kind of “quarantine control”, temperature checks, everything was sprayed with chemicals (for safety and health), “disinfected” air in all relevant facilities, seating was arranged to ensure proper “social distancing”, hand sanitizer at all entrances, and mandatory masks.
By the way: Judging by the photos published on the conference’s website, the mask rule was strictly enforced, even outside:
Katyusha.org has an excellent writeup that includes other curious aspects of this conference. A few excerpts:
The Geneva Center for Security Policy (JCPS) is also a very interesting Sochi guest. Here is what the official directory of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry says about this group:
The WCPB was created “as Switzerland’s contribution to NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP)’ … Teaching staff consists of visiting specialists, about 20% of staff have experience as NATO and Pentagon analysts. Also among the scientific and teaching staff there are employees who were trained in the universities of the USSR and Russia, who speak Russian.”
“The main task of the Center is to train experts from among diplomats, military, officials from different countries, employees of international organizations on various dossiers in the field of security. The predominant topics of the courses are international security policy, including humanitarian (social and individual security) and cyber security, European security policy, democratic control over the power structures of leading states.”
Katyusha’s closing thoughts:
Just wonderful “partners” were invited to Sochi by our officials at the height of the Ukronazi counteroffensive on the positions of the RF Armed Forces with the full coordination of the NATO enemy.
About WHO and in particular the WHO European Office, which recently closed its office in Moscow as a sign of a special “partnership”, we will simply keep silent—their activities are analyzed in detail by Katyusha in other materials.
So what are “our” diplomats and medical officials going to negotiate with them about—how to make the whole world better, cleaner and kinder, without infections, without chemical weapons? Alas, there are very big doubts about this. As there are doubts that the initiators of this meeting do not pose a threat to the national security and sovereignty of Russia.
A sound assessment in your humble correspondent’s opinion.
Putin sent a message to the participants of the conference:
Of no less importance is the build-up of collective efforts of the world community in the fight against epidemics. I would like to confirm that Russian specialists are ready to continue to take an active part in the elimination of outbreaks of dangerous infections in various regions of the world.
Look: This is not encouraging. It’s just not. No way to spin that, really.
To be fair to Putin, he also called out the fact that “recently the principles approved by this fundamental document [Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons] have been systematically violated. Moreover, useful initiatives to strengthen the corresponding non-proliferation regime often encounter opposition from a number of states seeking to use existing international problems to ensure their own biological security at the expense of others.”
This sounds accurate to me, and I think we know who Putin is referring to.
The problem is that Russia’s efforts to ensure “biological security” is Sanitary Shield, which relies on PCR tests and rushed genetic vaccines. That’s a problem.
What’s the takeaway?
Well…I don’t foresee Moscow withdrawing from the WHO any time soon. On the contrary, it appears the Russian government continues to pledge its fealty to “indivisible biosecurity” in the global crusade to protect our “health”.
Also, something about “sustainable development”—somehow they always find a way to include that.
Riley Waggaman is your humble Moscow correspondent. He worked for RT, Press TV, Russia Insider, yadda yadda. In his youth, he attended a White House lawn party where he asked Barack Obama if imprisoned whistleblower Bradley Manning (Chelsea was still a boy back then) “had a good Easter.” Good times good times. You can subscribe to his Substack here, or follow him on twitter or Telegram.
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