Ukraine hides African Swine Fever (ASF) and Avian Influenza outbreaks, Sergey Dankvert, head of the Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor, told state news channel Rossiya 24. He expressed concerns that Ukrainian refugees will bring the veterinary problems to Europe.
He came to these conclusions based on Rosselhoznadzor’s work on “the new territories”. Russian authorities use this term to describe parts of the Kherson, Zaporozhe, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Russian forces currently control these regions.
Dankvert also disclosed the creation of a special working group for the integration of those territories into Russian regulatory space. He added that Rosselhoznadzor “had previously cooperated” with the veterinary bodies of Donetsk and Lugansk, the regions partly not controlled by Kyiv since 2014.
Despite the veterinary issues, Ukrainian meat was allowed to be exported to Europe, with poultry export reaching 300,000 tonnes last year, Dankvert said.
This is not the first time Dankvert blames Ukraine for European ASF outbreaks. In August 2022, he linked a series of outbreaks in some European countries to a wave of refugees triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“At one time, I drew attention to the mass flows of people who went to Europe and said: there will be a spread of ASF. Why? Because people who live in Ukraine will not go without pork lard [a popular national Ukrainian dish]. Lard carries the risk of spreading ASF. This is what happened: in Italy and Germany, a large-scale wave of ASF occured.”
Rosselhoznadzor takes these risks into account. “When people arrive, we try to see what they are carrying,” he added.
Some Rosselhoznadzor officials supported Dankvert’s claims. “The spread of the virus is influenced by active migration, the resettlement of people, including refugees, from ASF-affected territories, including Ukraine, who move to the countries of Central and Western Europe,” Aleksey Igolkin, head of the Rosselhoznadzor’s reference laboratory for ASF told to Russian publication Veterinary and Life.
Ukrainian pig farmers and the state veterinary watchdog Gosvetphitoslyuzba have not yet reacted to Dankvert’s claims. During the past year, Ukrainian and Western officials have been warning that Russian government officials and state-controlled media spread false information about Ukraine. The aim is to weaken Western support of Kyiv.