The allegation of US “biological activities” in Ukraine, presented without evidence, has been dismissed by the Biden administration as Russian disinformation.
“This is exactly the kind of false flag effort we have warned Russia might initiate to justify a biological or chemical weapons attack,” Olivia Dalton, a spokeswoman for the US Mission to the United Nations, said late Thursday, according to the Associated Press. “We’re not going to let Russia gaslight the world or use the UN Security Council as a venue for promoting their disinformation.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also denied the Russian accusations in a video address to his war-torn nation, posted Thursday on Facebook.
“No chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction were developed on my land. The whole world knows that,” he said.
“They accuse us … that we are allegedly developing biological weapons, allegedly we are preparing a chemical attack. This makes me really worried,” he added, noting that he is the father of two children.
“It is they who are capable of this,” he said, referring to Russia. “They have already done such things in other countries … and they will do so again,” he added. “Using ammonia? Using phosphorus? What else have you prepared for us?”
Zelensky said laboratories in Ukraine were “engaged in ordinary science … not military technology.” He also warned that if Russia does deploy such chemical weapons, it should prepare for the “most severe sanctions response.”
“We’ve been repeatedly convinced, if you want to know Russia’s plans, look at what Russia accuses others of,” he added.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN secretary general, told reporters Thursday that “the use of chemical weapons in any conflict, in any context, is a grave violation of international law.”
A day earlier, Dujarric told reporters that the World Health Organization has been working with the Ukrainian government and is “unaware of any activity on the part of the Ukrainian government which is inconsistent with its international treaty obligations, including on chemical weapons or biological weapons. ”
Elsewhere, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday also suggested that Russia’s accusations could be a “cynical” pretext for its own actions.
“The stuff that you’re hearing about chemical weapons, this is straight out of their playbook,” Johnson told Sky News. “They start saying that there are chemical weapons that are being stored by their opponents or by the Americans, and so when they themselves deploy chemical weapons — as I fear they may — they have a sort of a ‘maskirovka,’ a fake story, ready to go.”
The White House warned this week that Russia could use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Russia has long “maintained a biological weapons program in violation of international law” and cited its military intervention in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its suspected poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny in 2020 with a Novichok-like nerve agent .
PSAKI dismissed Russia’s claims about US-supported biolabs in Ukraine as “preposterous” and “false.”
She also said during a White House news briefing Thursday that Russia has the “capacity” to use such weapons against its neighbor. When asked what evidence the United States has to back the claim that Russia has these types of weapons, Psaki said she wouldn’t “get into specific intelligence” but repeated that “Russia is the country that has a chemical and biological weapons program.”
PSAKI made the comments after Russian officials accused the United States of developing such weapons in Ukraine.
Dmitry Chumakov, a Russian deputy UN ambassador, urged Western media outlets on Wednesday to cover “the news about secret biological laboratories in Ukraine,” the Associated Press reported.
Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also told reporters Wednesday that Russia had concluded that “in Ukrainian laboratories close to our borders, components of biological weapons were being developed.”
The US has also hit back at Beijing for echoing Moscow’s “conspiracy theories.”
“This Russian military operation has uncovered the secret of the US labs in Ukraine, and this is not something that can be dealt with in a perfunctory manner,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday, according to the Associated Press, repeating similar claims he made earlier this week. “It is not something they can muddle through by saying that China’s statement and Russia’s finding are disinformation, and are absurd and ridiculous.”
While China claims it has not taken sides in the conflict — neither denouncing the Russian invasion nor overtly endorsing it — state media and Chinese Foreign Ministry officials regularly echo Russian propaganda, and the Russian biolab theory has quickly spread online, racking up millions of views on the social media platform Weibo.
The manic obsession with which various Russian officials fantasize about non-existent biological or chemical weapons or hazards in Ukraine is deeply troubling and may actually point at Russia preparing another horrific false flag operation. This tweet is for the record.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 10, 2022
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Thursday: “The manic obsession with which various Russian officials fantasize about non-existent biological or chemical weapons or hazards in Ukraine is deeply troubling and may actually point at Russia preparing another horrific false flag operation.”