three questions about the Russian biological weapons allegations

Information warfare continues to plague the Ukrainian conflict. Russia has accused Ukraine and the United States of preparing biological weapons in the lab for days. A communication that scares westerners for future use by Russian troops. The UN Security Council will meet urgently on Friday, March 11 at 5 p.m. (Paris time), at the request of Moscow, on the alleged production of biological weapons in Ukraine.

1What does Russia say?

The accusation has been made several times. Spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Defense Igor Konashenkov, in particular alleged that the United States had funded a biological weapons program in Ukraine. “Documents show that experiments were conducted on bat coronavirus samples”he assures. The purpose of this biological research in Ukraine, along with others funded by the Pentagon, was to create a mechanism for the clandestine spread of deadly pathogens.”

Since then, the Russian media under the influence of the Kremlin have picked up on these allegations. “In Kharkiv 20 soldiers died after being exposed to some kind of virus weapon”thus assures the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian)† This newspaper calls for about fifteen laboratories across Ukraine that would prepare weapons “for attacks on Russia”

All these allegations have been denied by the United States and Ukraine. ‘The Kremlin is deliberately spreading outright lies’US diplomacy spokesman Ned Price said in a press release. “I am the president of a decent country, of a decent people. No one is developing chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction on my territory”said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is not the first time that Moscow has made such accusations. In 2018, Russia had already implicated the United States by suspecting them of secretly conducting biological experiments in a laboratory in Georgia. This other former Soviet republic, like Ukraine, wants to join NATO and the European Union.

2What are westerners afraid of?

From Westerners, Russian chemical weapons communications are hiding something. “This is not the first time Russia has made such false accusations”claimed US Secretary of State Ned Price. “Now that Russia has made false accusations and China appears to be embracing this propaganda, we must monitor any possible use by Russia of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine”White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki warned on Twitter.

At a parliamentary hearing, Victoria Nuland, the number three in US diplomacy, estimated that: “It is a classic Russian technique to accuse others of what they themselves intend to do.”

Boris Johnson also expressed his concern about the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine on Thursday. “The things you hear about chemical weapons come straight from their strategy”the British Prime Minister said on Sky News. “They start by saying that chemical weapons have been stockpiled by their opponents or by the Americans And so when they use chemical weapons themselves, as I fear they do, they have a kind of maskirovka [un terme russe qui désigne l’art de tromper l’ennemi]a ready-made fake story.”

3Does Ukraine Have Chemical Weapons?

There are laboratories in Ukraine, but according to Westerners they have no military vocation. “Ukraine has a biological research facility and we’re actually quite concerned about the possibility of Russian troops trying to take it over.”said US diplomat Victoria Nuland during her hearing. “So we are working with the Ukrainians on ways to prevent these research-related materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces if they approached them.”

These labs, supported by the World Health Organization, are exploring ways to reduce the threat of dangerous diseases that affect both animals and humans, but are not designed to make weapons. In a letter consulted by Reuters, WHO nevertheless advises Ukraine to destroy its high-risk pathogens housed in its labs. It’s about avoiding “any possible leakage” that would spread diseases among the population in a bombardment.

As for the possible use by the Russian army of chemical or biological weapons, the UN remains cautious for the time being. UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said: “have no information (…) about their future use” in Ukraine. But the European chancelleries do not forget that Russia has already been accused of using such weapons. “We saw it in Syria, we saw it… even in the UK”Boris Johnson replied, referring to poisonings on British soil. And the British Prime Minister added: “It’s a cynical, barbaric government.” Despite Russian denials, the UK holds Moscow responsible for the 2018 poisoning in Salisbury of ex-Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Novichok.