Fact Check: The US Is NOT Resuming Construction Of Biolabs In Ukraine To Develop Bioweapons


  • Автор: Nicholas Muller
Fact Check: The US Is NOT Resuming Construction Of Biolabs In Ukraine To Develop Bioweapons No Evidence

Did the United States resume building biolabs in Ukraine aimed at developing components for biological weapons under a new name? No, that's not true: The United States has never developed a biological weapons program in Ukraine nor is there evidence it is doing that now.

The debunked claim has resurfaced in various forms since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The recycled false claim appeared in a video (archived here) published on TikTok by the account of Russia state-controlled media outlet Ria Novosti on April 7, 2023, under the title "US resumes work on biolabs in Ukraine". It opened:

Despite the forced pause associated with the conduct of a special military operation, activities under the program have now resumed. The main tasks at this stage are to continue the construction of biolabs in Ukraine, and also to expand the format for training Ukrainian biologists.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Apr 13 13:36:32 2023 UTC)

In the 47 second clip, Igor Kirillov, chief of Russia's radiation, chemical and biological protection force repeated the widely debunked claim that the United States is building bioweapons labs in Ukraine. Russian state-controlled outlets such as Russia Today, Sputnik, RBC, Kommersant, and newswires TASS and Interfax, have often repeated Kirillov's false claims which the United States has denied.

The U.S. Department of Defense's Biological Threat Reduction Program between the United States and Ukraine is aimed "to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern and to continue to ensure Ukraine can detect and report outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose security or stability threats", the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine's website explains, clarifying the nature of the U.S.-Ukraine partnership.

It adds: "The U.S. Department of Defense's Biological Threat Reduction Program collaborates with partner countries to counter the threat of outbreaks (deliberate, accidental, or natural) of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases." And it continues, "Current executive agents of the Biological Threat Reduction Program in Ukraine are the Ministry of Health, the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection, the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences, and the Ministry of Defense."

Back on March 14, 2023, the U.S. Department of State said that, "Moscow continues to push false information about biological weapons, without providing any credible evidence. Over a thousand scientific community members have signed a letter penned by Russian experts openly disputing the Kremlin's claim, saying the work of peaceful biological research laboratories in Ukraine does 'not imply any development of biological weapons or even the use of particularly dangerous pathogens in the laboratories.'"

A similar claim on the alleged U.S. bio-weapon in Ukraine was debunked in March 2022 by Lead Stories: "There are no U.S.-run bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine, according to the U.S. Department of Defense's (DOD) Threat Reduction Agency," the fact check stated.

Ukraine has also denied the allegations: Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to the head of the Ukrainian President's Office, responded on Twitter to Russia's latest claims that the United States "resumed the construction of military biolaboratories in Ukraine," calling them "ridiculous, clumsy & predictable Russia's lying attempts to justify its aggressive actions." The tweet continued, "However, it's great! Other countries should finally fully enjoy the ru-propaganda stupidity."

  Nicholas Muller

Nicholas Muller is a fact checker in Russian and Spanish for Lead Stories. He has been covering China’s global Belt and Road initiatives, climate, and migration stories in Asia, and also has several  years reporting from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Central Asia. He has a double MA degree in Chinese foreign policy and European Affairs from Sciences Po-Paris and Fudan University-Shanghai.

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