By DAVID KLEPPER and ANGELO FICHERA – Associated Press
Russia’s unsubstantiated claims about secret US biological warfare labs in Ukraine are also taking root in the US, uniting COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, QAnon followers, and some supporters of former President Donald Trump. .
Despite rebuttals from independent scientists, Ukrainian leaders, and White House and Pentagon officials, the online popularity of the claims suggests that some Americans are willing to trust the Kremlin’s propaganda about the US media and government. USA
Like any effective conspiracy theory, the Russian claim is based on a few truths: Ukraine maintains a network of biological laboratories dedicated to pathogen research, and those laboratories have received funding and research support from the US.
But the labs are owned and operated by Ukraine, and the work is not secret. It is part of an initiative called Biological Threat Reduction Program
which aims to reduce the likelihood of deadly outbreaks, whether natural or man-made. American efforts date back to the 1990s to dismantle the former Soviet Union’s weapons of mass destruction program.
“The labs are not secret,” Filippa Lentzos, senior professor of science and international security at King’s College London, said in an email to the Associated Press. “They are not being used in relation to biological weapons. This is all misinformation.”