A conspiracy theory that Ukraine has dangerous U.S.-funded biological weapon laboratories made its way through Q-Anon circles over the past month, with the suspicion that Russia was launching airstrikes to destroy those biolabs.
Who’s saying what
- According to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s website, the U.S. Department of Defense funds a Biological Threat Reduction Program in Ukraine and other countries around the world.
- China and Russia's foreign ministries stated that the United States maintains 336 dangerous labs in 30 countries, and 26 are in Ukraine.
- Fact-checkers: Fact-checkers immediately dismissed the claim as a conspiracy theory. Establishment outlets rejected all aspects of the theory.
Confirmation by U.S. official: On Wednesday, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, American diplomat Victoria Nuland confirmed that Ukraine has biological labs. Even further, she mentioned that officials were worried that Russia would gain control of the labs and seize research material–signaling that the labs are likely not benign.
- Damage control: Sen. ****Marco Rubio quickly interjected to confirm that Russia would be responsible given a hypothetical biological attack.
Progression of the narrative:
- The laboratories don't exist.
- The laboratories exist, but they exist for risk reduction.
- U.S. officials are concerned that Russians will seize the “risk-reduction” laboratories.
- Russia would be responsible for biological warfare if it occurred.
Big picture: While we don’t know exactly the intent of these labs or the level of danger they pose, we do know that the U.S. government has been more involved in Ukraine than they’ve previously portrayed and that they are trying to keep this knowledge from the public.
Further information: Glenn Greenwald's reporting and Tulsi Gabbard’s take.