DISINFO: US biolabs in Ukraine connected to the spread of COVID-19
The spread of the coronavirus led to renewed interest in the forgotten US biolabs around the world. In 2005, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and the United States Department of Defense signed a highly suspicious agreement about the prevention of proliferation of experience that could be used in the development of weapons of mass destruction. The location of the biolabs connected to this partnership corresponds to the epicentres of the coronavirus in Ukraine. However, the questionable terms of the agreement prevent Ukrainian President Zelenskyy from releasing any information. According to the terms, Ukraine must not release any information marked by the US as “sensitive” while the United States must be able to obtain any information marked by Ukraine as “state secret”.
A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the development of biological weapons by the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic. The conspiracy about US biolabs in countries bordering Russia aiming to attack Moscow or spread infectious diseases is a part of a years-long disinformation campaign led by the Kremlin. This article is based on the creation of simulation evidence which uses authentic documents but deliberately misinterprets them in order to create an illusion that the documents support the conspiracy. This practice is well-documented in relation to other conspiracy theories about biolabs such as the Lugar Laboratory in Georgia. The claims of this article are largely based on the Agreement between the Department of Defense of the United States of America and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Concerning Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise that could be used in the Development of Biological Weapons (full text available here). Contrary to suggestions that this is a secretive document, it is declassified and available on the website of the US Department of State. The agreement states that information transmitted under this partnership marked as “sensitive” or “restricted information” should be withheld from public disclosures by both the United States and Ukraine (Article VII, p. 8). Furthermore, information and technologies considered “state secret of Ukraine” may only be provided to the US in accordance with Ukrainian national law. Though the trope of US biolabs in Ukraine has been repeatedly invoked under different circumstances, there are no links between any of the Ukrainian facilities listed in the agreement and development of biological weapons or the spread of infectious diseases.