Russia’s unfounded claims of secret US bioweapons linger on and on – Times of India

The US secretly manufactured biological weapons in Ukraine. It trained birds to carry viruses into Russia. It created Covid-19. It operated laboratories in Nigeria that engineered this year’s outbreak of monkeypox.
Of the many falsehoods that the Kremlin has spread since the war in Ukraine began more than six months ago, some of the most outlandish and yet enduring have been those accusing the US of operating clandestine biological research programs to wreak havoc around the globe. The US and others have dismissed the accusations as preposterous, and Russia has offered no proof. Yet the claims continue to circulate. Backed at times by China’s diplomats and state media, they have ebbed and flowed in international news reports, fuelling conspiracy theories that linger online.
In Geneva this week, Russia has commanded an international forum to air its unsupported assertions again. The Biological Weapons Convention, the international treaty that since 1975 has barred the development and use of weapons made of biological toxins or viruses, gives member nations the authority to request a formal hearing of violations, and Russia has invoked the first one in a quarter-century. “This is the military biological Pandora’s box, which the US has opened and filled more than once,” Irina Yarovaya, the deputy chair of Russia’s lower house of parliament said last month. She is leading a parliamentary panel that was formed to “probe” US support for biological research labs in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Virtually no Western officials or experts expect Russia to produce, during the weeklong gathering, facts that corroborate the accusations. If the past is any guide, that will not stop Russia from making them. Experts say Russia is likely to use the mere existence of the investigative session to give its claims a patina of legitimacy.
Russia’s propaganda campaign has sought to justify the invasion ordered by President Putin, who in April cited a “network of Western bioweapons labs” as one of the threats that forced Russia to act. More broadly, the flurry of accusations has sought to discredit the US and its allies – Ukraine’s most powerful supporters and, increasingly, the source of arms being used to fight Russian forces.
Even when unsupported by fact, the accusations have played into preexisting attitudes toward American dominance in foreign affairs. The consequence has been to sow division and doubt – not necessarily to build support for Russia’s invasion but to deflect some of the blame to the US and Nato.

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