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The White House is warning on Wednesday that Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin could use chemical or biological weapons in a massive escalation of his unprovoked and deadly attack on Ukraine.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki sharply criticized Moscow’s claim that the U.S. is building bioweapons labs in Ukraine as ‘preposterous propaganda.’
The senior Biden official pointed out Russia’s ‘track record’ of gaslighting with its accusations against the West and said the Kremlin’s reports were an ‘obvious ploy’ for Putin to continue his ‘premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine’ as Russia bombards Kyiv and other cities there for nearly two weeks.
‘This is preposterous. It’s the kind of disinformation operation we’ve seen repeatedly from the Russians over the years in Ukraine and in other countries, which have been debunked, and an example of the types of false pretexts we have been warning the Russians would invent,’ Psaki wrote on Twitter.
She denied that the U.S. government produces or owns any biological weapons, and said it is in full compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.
She pointed out Russia’s own track record of allegations of using chemical and bilogical weapons against its enemies, adding: ‘It’s Russia that has long maintained a biological weapons program in violation of international law.’
‘Also, Russia has a track record of accusing the West of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating. In December, Russia falsely accused the U.S. of deploying contractors with chemical weapons in Ukraine.’
President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were ‘people, children under the wreckage’ of the hospital and called the strike an ‘atrocity.’
A woman walks outside the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, after it was destroyed in a ‘direct hit’ by a Russian rocket on Wednesday
She continued, ‘This is all an obvious ploy by Russia to try to try to justify its further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine.’
Psaki warned Russia’s seemingly false outrage would lead to a ‘false flag’ operation.
‘Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern,’ she said.
Earlier Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that ‘millions’ of Ukrainians could die if NATO does not impose a no-fly zone over his country during an interview with Sky News.
‘They want us to feel like animals because they blocked our cities, the biggest cities in Ukraine and they blocked them because they don’t want our people to get some food or water,’ Zelensky said.
‘We can’t stop all of this alone. Only if the world will unite around Ukraine.
‘Don’t wait for me to ask you several times, a million times, to close the sky. You have to phone us, to our people who lost their children, and say ”sorry we didn’t do it yesterday”.
‘The world did nothing. I’m sorry, but it’s true. In future, it will be too late. They will close the sky but will lose millions of people [while they wait]’.
His comments came after a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol was decimated in a ‘direct hit’ by Russian rockets on Wednesday afternoon, which left children buried in the rubble.
The Pentagon also dismissed on Wednesday claims the U.S. is operating biological labs out of Ukraine as ‘malarkey’ after China backed Russia’s conspiracy the Washington is creating biological weapons in Eastern Europe.
‘The Russian accusations are absurd – they’re laughable and are, in the words of my Irish Catholic grandfather, ‘a bunch of malarkey,’ Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a briefing.
‘There’s nothing to it,’ he continued. ‘It’s classic Russian propaganda.’
China on Tuesday came out spewing a Russian conspiracy accusing the U.S. of operating labs in Ukraine to create biological weapons. The claim was originally made by the Kremlin as a way to retroactively justify President Vladimir Putin’s now-14-day attack.
‘U.S. biolabs in Ukraine have indeed attracted much attention recently,’ Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Tuesday when speaking to reporters.
‘All dangerous pathogens in Ukraine must be stored in these labs and all research activities are led by the U.S. side,’ he added without providing evidence to the alleged America-run bio labs.
‘The Russian narrative that they’ve put out there that the United States is somehow running or facilitating, you know, biological weapons labs in Ukraine and that these labs are going to pose a threat to the – this is of a piece of the Russian playbook here: claim they’re the victims, create a false narrative to try to justify their own aggressive actions,’ a senior Defense official told Fox News.
‘It is absurd. It is laughable. It is untrue,’ they added, echoing Kirby’s sentiments.
Earlier this week, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ information and press department Director Maria Vladimirovna Zakharova said that in the midst of invasion, Moscow confirmed Ukrainian leadership was attempting to clean up traces of ‘military and biological programs’.
She claimed these programs had financial backing from the U.S.
Now China is repeating this claim, especially after using a similar diversion tactic last year when questions mounted on the origins of COVID-19.
At the time, China pointed to Fort Detrick, a U.S. military facility in Maryland, as the source of the virus that led to the now two-year pandemic.
The Soviet Union falsely claimed in the 1980s that the same facility was the source of the virus causing AIDS.
Zhao also mentioned the facility on Tuesday.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian spewed on Tuesday a new Russian conspiracy that the U.S. is operating a biological weapons lab in Ukraine as retroactive justification for invasion
The claims come as Russia continues its 14th day of invasion in Ukraine. Pictured: A man rides a bicycle in front of a damaged apartment building in Mariupol, Ukraine on Wednesday, March 9, 2022
The new accusations from China comes as Russia already accused earlier this week that the U.S. is using Ukraine to carry out illegal biological weapons research on deadly diseases, including the Black Death.
‘The U.S., as the party that knows the labs the best,’ Zhao claimed, ‘should disclose specific information as soon as possible, including which viruses are stored and what research has been conducted.’
He also called on ‘relevant sides to ensure the safety’ of the bio lab facilities.
The biological weapons claim is just the latest round of misinformation meant to justify Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Before the attack was sparked in late February, there were multiple false flag videos released showing alleged ‘genocide’ of Russian-speaking residents in Eastern Ukraine, which U.S. intelligence claimed was made with altered video.
Moscow alleged this week that an operation was carried out last month to destroy stocks of ‘especially dangerous pathogenic agents of the plague, anthrax, tularemia (rabbit fever), cholera and other lethal diseases.’
The bio-weapons program, which would flout International law, was allegedly held close to the Russian border. The pathogens were supposedly destroyed by Ukraine so that Vladimir Putin‘s invaders would not find evidence of their existence.
This is the latest in a frenzy of scare stories receiving major coverage in Russian media to justify the increasingly bloody war in Ukraine, where at least 364 Ukrainians have died and at least 759 have been injured, according to the United Nations.
Russia has been laying the groundwork for such claims for quite some time, according to Foreign Policy magazine. In January, a Russian-language Telegram account warned that a ‘full-fledged network of biological laboratories has been deployed’ with ‘American grants’ to study deadly viruses that were already making people sick in Kazakhstan.
In May 2020, the Russian newspaper Izvestia made similar claims. And a close advisor to Putin accused the US last year of developing ‘more and more biological laboratories … mainly by the Russian and Chinese borders.’
Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov claims to have received documents proving that Ukraine was conducting biological weapons research near Russia with the help of the U.S.
It was impossible to immediately verify the authenticity of the documents, which the Russians say they are still studying
The documents reportedly come from Ukraine and detail the country’s plans to study biological weapons, which would which would flout International law
A factory and a store are burning after been bombarded in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6, 2022
The biological weapons research is the latest ‘false flag’ orchestrated by Russia since it announced a ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine on February 24 to ‘demilitarize’ and ‘de-Nazify’ its neighbor, whose president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. is Jewish.
The Kremlin has separately claimed that Ukraine was building plutonium dirty bombs at Chernobyl – now under Russian military control.
Russia is also alleging Ukrainian secret services and the Azov battalion – a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard known for its neo-Nazi sympathies – plan to explode a reactor at the National Research Centre of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, then blame Moscow for nuclear contamination.
Scant evidence has been produced for the claims, and they are likely to be seen by the West as propaganda to galvanize support for the war inside Russia.
The West has repeatedly warned of Russian ‘false flag’ and ‘fake’ stunts linked to its invasion.
‘It is clear that with the launch of the special military operation the Pentagon was seriously worried about disclosure of secret biological experiments in Ukraine,’ alleged Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
He claimed Moscow had obtained documents which ‘confirm that Ukrainian bio-laboratories in the immediate vicinity of Russian territory were engaged in developing components of biological weapons’.
It was impossible to verify the authenticity of the documents which the Russians say they are still studying.
‘Some of them, in particular instructions by the Ukrainian Health Ministry to destroy pathogens and the certificates of destruction at bio-laboratories in Poltava and Kharkiv, we’re publishing right now.’
Konashenkov said employees of Ukrainian bio-laboratories told the Russian army that ‘especially hazardous pathogens’ and other lethal diseases infecting agents had been urgently destroyed on February 24, ahead of the invasion.
The destruction was to conceal breaches of the Biological Weapons Convention, it was alleged. The disarmament treaty entered into force in March 1975.
It has been signed and ratified by 183 countries including Russia, the United States and Ukraine, according to the Arms Control Association.
Separately, Russiahas alleged a planned ‘provocation’ by Ukrainian defenders to blow up a research reactor near Kharkiv causing ‘possible radioactive contamination,’ which would be blamed on Moscow.
‘Nationalists mined a reactor at an experimental nuclear system located at the [National Research Center of] Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology,’ said a Russian military statement.
Refugees continue to spill out of Russia as bombing intensifies in Ukraine
‘The Ukrainian military and the Azov battalion militants are planning to blow up the reactor and accuse the Russian Armed Forces of allegedly launching a missile strike on an experimental nuclear system.’
They further claimed that ‘on March 6, foreign journalists arrived in Kharkiv to register the consequences of the provocation, followed by accusing Russia of creating an environmental disaster’.
Earlier Russia claimed that plutonium-based ‘dirty bombs’ were being prepared at Chernobyl.
No evidence was cited.
Russia in recent years has been accused of using chemical-agent novichok to poison both double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury and Kremlin foe Alexei Navalny in Siberia.
Last week, Ukraine warned that Russia may be about to stage a false flag attack on one of its own border villages using ‘multiple rocket-launching systems’.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter on Thursday there were ‘worrying reports’ of a potential operation to suggest Ukraine has attacked a Russian village.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter on Thursday there were ‘worrying reports’ of a potential operation to suggest Ukraine has attacked a Russian village
‘Russians might have pointed multiple rocket-launching systems in the Russian border village of Popovka towards their own territory. Knowing the barbaric nature of Russian actions we fear a false flag operation,’ Kuleba said.
His statement was not immediately confirmed by other government officials but follows days of Russian troop movements to encircle key Ukrainian cities after Moscow’s men failed to swiftly take major urban centres and to subdue Kyiv’s military.
Two days before the invasion on February 22, Russia was accused of orchestrating a ‘false flag’ event after Moscow claimed it ambushed two military units, destroyed two armoured vehicles and killed five Ukrainian troops in Russian territory.
Analysts were quick to cast doubt over the claims, which resulted in fresh warnings that the Kremlin was looking to manufacture conflict as justification for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In another incident, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) claimed that bombing carried out by ‘Ukrainian saboteurs’ killed three civilians. But a video of a reporter showing the damage was also questioned by analysts.
US intelligence had for weeks before the invasion been warning Russia was planning a false flag attack as a pretext for an invasion – and a social media disinformation campaign to portray Ukraine as the aggressor.
Officials last month said they had evidence that operatives training in urban warfare and sabotage would carry out the attacks.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the country was in talks with Poland in order to orchestrate a deal that would allow Polish fighter jets to be flown by pilots from the Ukrainian Air Force in order to combat Russia’s air superiority.
Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv, March 5, 2022
The deal would see Ukraine take Poland’s 28 Russian-made MiG-29 warplanes, which would in turn be replaced by a fresh set of F-16’s by the United States.
Blinken told CBS’s Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan: ‘That gets the green light. In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to backfill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians. What can we do?
‘How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they’re handing over to the Ukrainians?’
It comes as Russia’s Defense Ministry today warned countries, including NATO member Romania, against hosting Kyiv’s military aircraft, saying they could end up being involved in an armed conflict.
Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a video briefing that some Ukrainian combat planes had redeployed to Romania and other Ukraine neighbors he did not identify.
He warned that if those warplanes attacked the Russian forces from the territory of those nations, it ‘could be considered as those countries’ engagement in the military conflict.’
Devastating images show the father of an 18-month-old boy named Kirill running into a hospital in Ukraine with his dying son
A man and a child escape from the town of Irpin, after heavy shelling on the only escape route used by locals
A wife says her goodbyes to her husband who is a member of the Territorial Defence as she evacuates Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday
Konashenkov said: ‘We know for sure that Ukrainian combat aircraft have flown to Romania and other neighboring countries.
‘The use of the airfield network of these countries for basing Ukrainian military aviation with the subsequent use of force against Russia’s army can be regarded as the involvement of these states in an armed conflict.’
The spokesman also claimed that ‘practically all’ Ukraine’s combat-ready aircraft had been destroyed.
Earlier today, U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley visited a training center in Pabrade, Lithuania, amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
Ukraine fears an attack from the air may soon be the go-to choice of tactics by Russia after their ground offensive appears to be making far slower progress than the Kremlin had anticipated.
Police and State Emergency Service (SES) officers work at the scene where several houses have been damaged by an explosion, following an air strike in Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Oblast, March 5, 2022
A mother and two children were killed and the father was wounded by a mortar shell as hundreds of civilians sought safety
Groups of people flee the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, after the region faced heavy bombardment from Kremlin forces
The White House is now working out the practicalities of carrying out a deal, including the crucial question of how the Ukrainians would physically be able to get their hands on the planes.
‘There are a number of challenging practical questions, including how the planes could actually be transferred from Poland to Ukraine.
‘We are also working on the capabilities we could provide to backfill Poland if it decided to transfer planes to Ukraine,’ a White House spokesperson told the Financial Times.
Poland, which is a member of NATO, would need to play the situation delicately and not be seen to overtly supporting the war unilaterally.
On Saturday, an 18-month-old boy named Kirill was fatally wounded in the the southern city of Mariupol after Russian forces shelled Ukraine’s second city just minutes into an agreed cease-fire.
Kirill’s devastated mother Marina Yatsko and her boyfriend Fedor were later seen grieving as they embraced their son’s lifeless body laid out on a stretcher in the besieged city.
And Saturday, in some of the most harrowing scenes of the war so far, the bodies of those killed in the mortar attack were seen lying motionless on a road.
Beside them were suitcases packed ahead of what they hoped would be a journey to safety. There was even a pet carrier among the luggage.
Three members of the same family were among those killed in the attack by Vladimir Putin’s forces on Irpin, a town 12 miles from Kyiv.
Horrific images captured the terrifying experience of mothers, fathers, grandparents and children running from Russian artillery fire.
Ukraine war: The latest
- US intelligence chiefs say they fear Putin is angry and frustrated and may resort to using small tactical nuclear weapons to force Ukraine into submission
- They said it remains unclear whether Putin has decided to take Ukraine whatever the cost, or whether there remains capacity for a ceasefire
- McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Pepsi became the latest companies to pull out of Russia
- Russia refloats plans to open humanitarian corridors. Kyiv calls the proposal a publicity stunt
- Ukrainian servicemen and fleeing residents describe ferocious fighting on Kyiv’s northwestern edge, including hand-to-hand combat
- 18 people, including two children, died in an air strike on the city of Sumy
- Russia steps up its shelling of Gostomel near Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, Sumy in the northeast, Chernihiv in the north and Mykolayiv in the southwest
- Tens of thousands are still trapped without water or power in the southern port of Mariupol after two failed evacuation attempts
- Nearly all of Russia’s 150,000 combat troops arrayed on Ukraine’s border have now entered the country
- The International Atomic Energy Agency receives reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city Kharkiv
- White House says there is no agreement with European allies on a blanket ban on oil and gas imports
- The World Bank approves an additional $489million package for Ukraine, made available immediately
- Russia says it will allow Russian companies and individuals to repay debts to creditors in ‘hostile’ nations in rubles
- US-based Morgan Stanley says a Russian default on sovereign debts will come as soon as next month
- Russian President Vladimir Putin says once more he is not sending conscripts or reservists to fight
- Kyiv’s presidential advisor says talks with Russia brought some ‘positive results’, while Moscow’s lead negotiator said aims were ‘not fulfilled’
- Turkey announces it will host Russia’s and Ukraine’s foreign ministers for talks on Thursday.
- Foreign footballers and coaches working in Russia and Ukraine will be allowed to temporarily suspend their contracts and move elsewhere, FIFA announces
- The UN says 2 million people have fled Ukraine, making it the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II