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US Government Releases Report on Russia’s Chemical Weapons Disinformation Campaigns

May 25th, 2022 13:02

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.