The US State Department’s Global Engagement Center on Tuesday released a new report outlining Russia’s attempts to spread disinformation about American and Ukrainian biological weapons.
The eight-page report does not seem to present new information about the disinformation effort, but rather gives a comprehensive look at the widespread efforts on the matter, from the days of the Soviet Union to the current war in Ukraine.
The release of the report comes a day after a senior State Department official said that Russia and China have “clearly” aligned themselves on propaganda and disinformation regarding the war in Ukraine, and that the United States and the West have not invested enough over the years in countering such disinformation.
Tuesday’s report noted that “Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, has pushed false claims for decades about biological weapons in an attempt to create mistrust in the peaceful global efforts and public health institutions that counter biological threats.”
“Since the February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem has increased the volume and intensity of its disinformation about biological weapons in an unsuccessful attempt to deflect attention from its invasion of Ukraine, to diminish international support for Ukraine, and to justify its unjustifiable war,” it stated.
“Russia has a history of accusing others of doing what it is doing itself, and its recent biological weapons claims related to Ukraine are no different. The United States assesses that Russia continues to maintain an offensive biological weapons program in violation of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention,” the report added.
The report gave numerous examples of the disinformation that Russia has promulgated since the start of the war, including one of its “most notable false claims is that the United States worked with Ukraine to train an army of migratory birds, mosquitos and even bats to carry biological weapons into Russia,” which it added was “absurd.”
The report described the false claims as being spread through “Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem, such as Kremlin-funded media outlets and Russian Intelligence-linked websites” and “so-called ‘experts'” who speak to the Russian press.
It also highlighted Russia’s parliamentary commission investigating what it alleges are US biological laboratories in Ukraine, which the report said spreads false information about biological weapons.