The Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, is suspected of developing biological weapons using the lethal Ebola virus and the related Marburg virus, British website the Mirror reported, quoting an unidentified former United Kingdom intelligence officer and French nonprofit organization OpenFacto.
The project has a codename of Toledo, a possible reference to a Spanish city which was devastated by a plague in 1598, or Toledo, Ohio, which was hard hit by the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918, according to a report by OpenFacto published Dec. 22.
The Mirror's source and OpenFacto said the Toledo project comes out Russia's work on developing a vaccine for Ebola. It was created through the 48th Central Research Institute of the country's defense department and is a direct affiliate of the 33rd Central Research Institute.
The 33rd Central Research Institute is believed responsible for recent developments of the novichok nerve agents, created by the old Soviet Union from the 1970s to early 1990s and suspected in poisonings of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal on the streets of Salisbury, England, in 2018 and Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny in August.
The OpenFacto report said open source documentation available links the 48th institute's work on Ebola as a supplier to Unit 68240, a FSB operation responsible for Toledo.
"Both Russia and the U.K. have labs studying biological and chemical warfare to learn how to defend against weapons such as novichok," the Mirror quoted the former British military intelligence officer as saying. "But if, simultaneously, Russia is studying how to weaponize Ebola and Marburg, that has horrific possibilities.
"Moscow has repeatedly shown a willingness and capability of using weapons such as novichok, even on the streets of the U.K. This steps it up a level. It could mean Russia potentially stepping up research on Ebola and Marburg and looking at its lethality as a weapon."
OpenFacto, which describes itself as an organization to promote and support open source intelligence in the francophone community, says both the 48th institute and the 33rd institute have been sanctioned by the U.S. government for "likely conducting research for biological weapons."
The viruses that cause Ebola are mainly located in sub-Saharan Africa and the symptoms of which range from fever, pain, and fatigue to massive internal bleeding.
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