There is no evidence that the Ukrainian government ordered the eradication of anthrax, cholera and other infectious diseases on the day Putin invaded Ukraine. It is also not true that there are US-funded biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine. On the contrary, the laboratories that exist there are in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and are part of the Development Program for reducing the risks and dangers of diseases
We review a Facebook post claiming that “Ukraine is destroying evidence of a US-funded biological weapons development program”. As part of the post, a text was shared from the site Kolovrt, which claims that after Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24 this year, the Ukrainian government ordered the immediate destruction of plague and anthrax pathogens in US-funded laboratories. The US-funded biological weapons program also involved the production of biological weapons components in laboratories in the cities of Poltava and Kharkiv.
The allegations were attributed to the Russian Ministry of Defense and alleged documents were presented containing a list of pathogens that were to be destroyed, and it is said that the first information was published by the Russian media “Russia Today”, which is state-controlled. The text also reads that “Rusia Today” cannot confirm that the documents are credible.
What events preceded this bombastic announcement?
In an attempt to justify its invasion of Ukraine, Russian propaganda once again promotes the false narrative that Ukraine is developing biological weapons with US assistance. On March 6, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed to have received evidence that Ukraine and the United States had cooperated in developing biological weapons. In many Russian media, this information resonated with the speed of light and was transmitted by Macedonian media as well. According to Major General Igor Konashenkov, pathogens for deadly diseases, including plague, anthrax and cholera, were created in these laboratories to be used in biological warfare, and these laboratories were “established by the United States and the US Department of Defense.”
The false claim that there are US-funded laboratories in Ukraine that produce pathogens has been repeated by Russia since 2020.
In May 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ukraine’s secret service issued a statement urging politicians to stop spreading disinformation about the existence of “US military biological laboratories in Ukraine.”
There are no foreign biological laboratories operating in Ukraine. The claims of individual politicians about the alleged existence of such laboratories are untrue and are a deliberate distortion of the facts, the statement reads.
In April 2020, the US Embassy in Ukraine also issued a statement saying it wanted to explain the disinformation about the program.
The statement reads:
The United States and Ukraine have had a partnership since 2005 to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and to facilitate the peaceful development of vaccines. This partnership between the US Department of Defense and the Ukrainian Ministry of Health is part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which began in 1991 to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This partnership does not mean that there are US-led laboratories in Ukraine; in fact, the US Department of Defense has never had a biological laboratory in Ukraine.
“Rather, the U.S. Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has provided technical support to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health since 2005 to improve public health laboratories, whose mission is analogous to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Andy Weber, member of the board of the Arms Control Association told PolitiFact.
Biological weapons researcher and professor at King’s College London, Philippa Lenzos, told AFP that there were no indications that these laboratories in Ukraine were being used to develop biological weapons, but that their aim was to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
In 2020, media close to the Kremlin tried to blame America for the Covid-19 pandemic, suggesting that the virus was created in laboratories.
Given the above facts, we consider that there is no evidence that the Ukrainian government ordered the destruction of pathogens of anthrax, cholera and other infectious diseases on the day when Putin invaded Ukraine. We also ассесс that it is not true that there are US-funded biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine. On the contrary, the laboratories that exist there are in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and are part of the Development Program for reduction of risks and dangers.
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