Russia’s claims about secret American biological warfare labs in Ukraine are taking root in the US too, uniting Covid-19 conspiracy theorists, QAnon adherents and some supporters of ex-President Donald Trump.
The Russian claim relies on some truths: Ukraine does maintain a network of biological labs dedicated to research into pathogens, and those labs have received funding and research support from the US.
But the labs are owned and operated by Ukraine, and the work is not secret. It’s part of an initiative called the Biological Threat Reduction Program that aims to reduce the likelihood of deadly outbreaks, whether natural or manmade. The US efforts date back to work in the 1990s to dismantle the former Soviet Union’s program for weapons of mass destruction.
The United States has denied Russian claims that Washington is operating biowarfare laboratories in Ukraine, calling the allegations “preposterous” and warning that Moscow might seek to use chemical or biological weapons during its ongoing offensive on its neighbouring country.
The US denial on Wednesday came hours after Russia renewed its accusations that Washington was working with Kyiv to develop biological weapons in the vicinity of the Ukraine-Russia border.
In a statement, Ned Price, spokesperson for the Department of State, accused Russia of “inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own horrific actions in Ukraine” and said Washington was “in full compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention, and it does not develop or possess such weapons anywhere”.
Meanwhile, China has also asked the US to release “relevant details as soon as possible” regarding dozens of its alleged biological laboratories in Ukraine, warning “all dangerous viruses in Ukraine must be stored in these laboratories.”
“According to the data released by the US itself, the US has 26 biological laboratories and other related facilities in Ukraine which has indeed attracted great attention,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday at a news conference in Beijing.
Sources: TRT World, Al Jazeera, Times of India