Following Russia’s claims that the U.S. is financing biological weapons labs in Ukraine—an allegation the U.S. calls “disinformation”—China is adding more fuel to the fire by repeating the same talking points and calling on the U.S. to prove the rumors are false.
In Chinese state-run media, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged American leaders to provide “thorough clarification” regarding any biological military activities.
“This will help restore the international community’s confidence in the U.S. fulfillment of its international obligations and strengthen global biosecurity,” the spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said.
The United Nations has said it is not aware of any biological weapons programs in Ukraine.
“There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States—not near Russia’s border or anywhere,” said UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The U.S. has always claimed to be “open and transparent,” the Foreign Ministry said. “If the concerns are truly ‘disinformation,’ why doesn’t the United States release detailed materials to prove its innocence?”
Zhao claims that the U.S. spent $200 million funding bio-labs and questioned what kind of research was being conducted.
The U.S. has partnered with Ukraine through the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP), part of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) initiative that aims to “support peaceful and safe biological detection and diagnostic capabilities and to reduce the threats posed by pathogens,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The Ukraine Embassy says the BTRP is designed to counter outbreaks of the world’s most dangerous infections.
Through the BTRP, the U.S. has invested approximately $200 million in Ukraine since 2005, supporting over 40 Ukrainian labs, health facilities and diagnostic sites, according to the DOD.
“DoD’s CTR Program began its biological work with Ukraine to reduce the risk posed by the former Soviet Union’s illegal biological weapons program, which left Soviet successor states with unsecured biological materials after the fall of the USSR,” the DOD states in a fact sheet about the CTR program.
The DOD claims it has partnered with many countries for its CTR program, stating even working within Russian-owned laboratories until 2014.
Zhao questioned why U.S. officials refuse to open the Ukrainian labs for independent research by international experts. He then accused the U.S. of being self-contradictory, saying the nation “points fingers” at other countries stating noncompliance but then refuses to verify its own actions.
“This is typical double standard. Moreover, given the credibility of the United States, it is very difficult for it to win the trust of the international community,” Zhao said.
The U.S. Department of State says Russia and China’s conspiracy theories are only attempting to justify Moscow’s hostility towards Ukraine.
“The Kremlin is intentionally spreading outright lies that the United States and Ukraine are conducting chemical and biological weapons activities in Ukraine,” said U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price. “We have also seen PRC [People’s Republic of China] officials echo these conspiracy theories.”
However, U.S. officials say given Russia’s history of falsely accusing other nations of the same violations it commits, they suspect Russia may be planning to use chemical or biological agents against the Ukrainian people.
“Russia has a track record of accusing the West of the very crimes that Russia itself is perpetrating,” Price continued. “These tactics are an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attacks on Ukraine. We fully expect Russia to continue to double down on these sorts of claims with further unfounded allegations.”