Discover more from Hoaxlines Lab
Russia and China resurrect disinformation rooted in Soviet-era active measures
Part 1: False claims implying or asserting that the US has biological weapons in Ukraine are not new. Here's how you know they're false.
Russia and China have been using official government accounts to spread false claims about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. False claims implying or asserting that the US has biological weapons in Ukraine are not new. In the 1980s Russian disinformation suggested the US created the HIV virus.
“We are conducting a series of [active] measures in connection with the appearance in recent years in the USA of a new and dangerous disease, “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – AIDS”…, and its subsequent, large-scale spread to other countries, including those in Western Europe.”
Disinformation efforts continued after the fall of the Soviets in the early 1990s. While not all headlines reflect active measures, it’s remarkable how they build upon one another over time.
2002 to 2003
The article, Bill Gates was involved in the artificial creation of the Zika epidemic in order to reduce the world’s population, appeared in Geopolitica.ru - Italian in 2020.
The narrative spread by Russian and Chinese accounts in March 2022 first appeared in 2017. A pro-Kremlin hacking collective called CyberBerkut (recognized as a GRU front organization) published the story, as did Russian state media Later, the FSB-controlled outlet SouthFront also published this false narrative.
The only bioweapons are the ones the Soviets made
Besides the Kremlin’s history of spreading false bioweapons claims, the other inaccuracy concerns existing laboratories in Ukraine that were created in cooperation with the United States. Far from creating bioweapons, these laboratories were created for securing the Soviet Union’s biological weapons, which it developed in violation of a treaty the Soviets had signed.
Indeed these clear violations on the convention were only admitted after the totalitarian regime collapsed and duplicity in politics was abandoned … The remnants of the offensive programs in the area of BW (biological weapons) were still around as recently as 1991. It was only in 1992 that Russia absolutely stopped this work.
General Kuntsevich, 19921
The Soviet Union was the nation that created the bioweapons that Russia’s actions now threaten to unleash—however small that risk may be—by indiscriminately bombing and attacking Ukraine. Were a pathogen to thaw, it might be able to multiply and infect a human. Such an outcome has the potential to cause global devastation. Russia both created and now risks unleashing the threat.
Interview with General Kuntsevich in Rossiyskie Vesti, September 22, 1992, in FBIS-SOV-92-186, September 24, 1992.