The Russian state has offered no evidence for its repeated assertions related to false claims it made about laboratories. Given Russia’s history of making false claims about the United States and biological weapons–Russia spread bioweapon disinformation about the US for the first time no later than 1949–we’re not taking Russia’s word on this.
To provide just one example of the harm Russia has caused with similar narratives, in 1982 after a long-term Soviet disinformation campaign, Pakistan denied visa renewals to US scientists and ordered them to leave the country under threat of arrest. The scientists were there with the equivalent of over $9 billion in 2022 to research malaria control and prevent thousands of deaths in the region per year.
Why did Pakistan become so hostile toward the scientists then? A Soviet disinformation campaign had been systematically spreading rumors that the US was studying biological warfare for use in Cuba by experimenting on Pakistan’s people. The cost of this disinformation was every life we could have saved between 1982 and the early 2000s when Pakistan finally reduced malaria cases in the area.
The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications, which has published daily digests of Russia’s false claims, sees a more ominous meaning in the Kremlin’s game of musical bioweapons labs:
Claims that the US has moved laboratories from Ukraine to Mongolia are without evidence and the Agency “has no current, active, or planned engagements with Mongolia.”
Soviet bioweapon disinformation started no later than 1949 and it has been a lasting favorite, adapted to new outbreaks and crises. Here are some examples of bioweapon disinformation from the past two decades.
2002 to 2003
The article, Bill Gates was involved in the artificial creation of the Zika epidemic in order to reduce the world’s population, appeared in Geopolitica.ru – Italian in 2020.
In 2017, the narrative that was spread by Russian and Chinese accounts first appeared. A pro-Kremlin hacking collective called CyberBerkut, Russian state media, and later an FSB-controlled outlet in 2018, published false claims about biological weapons and laboratories in Ukraine and Georgia.
Fact check from the original disinformation campaign
Operation InfeKtion: How Russia Perfected the Art of War (video)
China’s False Allegations of the Use of Biological Weapons by the United States during the Korean War
The Virus of Disinformation: Echoes of past bioweapons accusations in today’s COVID-19 conspiracy theories
‘The Russians must know it’s a lie.’ Ukrainian bat research spun into a false tale of bioweapons
Hoaxlines Report: Russia changed its story about bioweapons. Then Russia and China flooded the world with disinformation.