The US State Department has released a report on Russia’s chemical weapons-related disinformation campaigns, examining the Khan Shaykshun, Syria attack (2017), the Salisbury and Amesbury poisonings (2018,) and the Navalny poisoning (2020). The report argues that Russian disinformation about chemical weapons is not necessarily intended to persuade others to accept their arguments but to sow doubt and confusion and undermine the unity and effectiveness of an international response. According to the report:
May 2022 The Kremlin’s spreading of unfounded and debunked allegations that the United States and Ukraine are conducting chemical and biological weapons activities in Ukraine is part of a well-established Russian disinformation tactic. The Kremlin has a long track record of accusing others of the very violations they commit. The United States does not own or operate any chemical or biological laboratories in Ukraine and is in full compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Ukraine is also in full compliance with its obligations under the CWC and BWC. It is, in fact, the Russian Federation that has active chemical and biological weapons programs and is in violation of its international obligations. Just like during Putin’s war of choice against Ukraine, the Russian government spreads disinformation to shield its Syrian ally from accountability after the Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons, including the 2017 sarin attack against Syrians in Khan Shaykhun. The Kremlin also denied its own responsibility for the 2018 Novichok poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the United Kingdom and the subsequent, related death of a UK citizen in Amesbury. The Kremlin also has tried to escape taking responsibility for the Novichok poisoning of Russian opposition politician Aleksey Navalny in 2020. Each time, the Kremlin used its seat in multilateral organizations as a platform to spread its disinformation. The Kremlin is now attempting to use the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and other multilateral organizations to deceive people on this issue and to justify President Putin’s brutal war of choice against Ukraine.
Read the full report here.
In March, the Global Influence Operations Report reported that Russian officials have repeatedly accused Ukraine’s government of seeking weapons of mass destruction (WMD) with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear capabilities. We have also reported on Russian claims that the United States is developing biological weapons in a network of labs in Ukraine. The Russian propaganda on biolabs has been copy-pasted almost directly from years of similar fake stories that Kremlin trolls have used to try and discredit legitimate biological research in Georgia and Kazakhstan. These claims have not only been echoed by the Chinese government but also amplified by QAnon conspiracy theorists and far-right American political figures, including Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson.