U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Russian Institutes to Push Own Pharma: Zakharova

On Wednesday, the United States slapped sanctions on five Russian institutes, accusing them of developing chemical and biological weapons. The restrictions were specifically imposed on a research institute of the Russian Defense Ministry that developed the first COVID-19 vaccine together with the Gamaleya Institute, as reported by Sputnik News.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Friday said that the U.S. sanctions against Russian institutes working on a COVID-19 vaccine are aimed at promoting their own pharmaceutical companies.

“We are not sure that this is the right step towards cooperation in the fight against the [coronavirus] pandemic, the importance of which, we think, is not disputed even in Washington,” she stressed.

Referring to the U.S., Zakharova added that “one gets the impression that it is all about the trivial use of sanctions pressure in the interests of promoting their own companies, now pharmaceutical ones, as is the case with the ongoing promotion of their gas on the European market”.

The statement comes a day after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that Washington’s latest round of restrictions on Russian research institutes on the grounds that they’re developing chemical and biological weapons are nonsensical.

“This is a continuation of a sort of an addiction to sanctions. Some kind of a Theater of the Absurd of sanctions. We, of course, categorically reject any statements alleging some of our organizations of involvement or participation in the development of chemical and bacteriological weapons — this is absolute nonsense,” he told reporters on Thursday, citing the U.S. imposition of sanctions as “another example of overt, unbridled, and unfair competition”.

Asked to clarify whose addiction he meant, Peskov referred to the U.S., which he said “cannot live without sanctions and without going a single day without a declaration of sanctions, or rather restrictions, on anyone”.

He spoke following Washington imposing sanctions on five Russian institutes on Wednesday, accusing them of developing chemical and biological weapons.

These include the 48th Central Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Defense Ministry, which has developed the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine together with the Gamaleya Research Institute.

The vaccine, which was registered on 11 August, was tested on 76 volunteers separately at two institutions — the Moscow-based Sechenov University and the Russian Defense Ministry’s Burdenko Main Military Clinical Hospital. Phase 3 in the trial of the Russian vaccine, involving around 2,000 people, is currently underway.

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