A new conspiracy theory has become popular among some of the online communities that formed around QAnon — one simultaneously being promoted by the Kremlin as a justification for its invasion of Ukraine. The false claim: the United States is developing bioweapons in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin has stepped in to save the day and destroy the weapons.
QAnon’s core prophecy has always been that there is a “plan” and that former President Donald Trump will rid the world of an evil cabal, culminating in the unmasking, imprisonment or even execution of cabal members. But that prophecy dates back to when Trump was actually president — now that he’s not, believers have been convincing themselves there is evidence that the plan is still very much in place, maybe even more so than ever before. In the Kremlin’s disinformation, some have seen that hope.
There are US-funded biolabs in Ukraine, that much is true. But they are not building bioweapons. Actually, it’s the opposite: Part of the reason for their creation was to secure old Soviet weapons left behind in the former Soviet republics. The State Department has described the claims as nonsense — and the US and Ukrainian governments have repeatedly, and for years now, tried to bat down conspiracy theories about the labs and spoken about the work that is actually being done in them.
Russia’s falsehoods about labs like this have not been limited to Ukraine. Similar claims were made about a lab in Tbilisi, Georgia; those were proven false. Dr. Filippa Lentzos, co-director of the Centre for Science & Security Studies at King’s College London, visited the lab along with other experts and debunked the Russian claims. She told CNN the Russians are spreading the same lies about labs in Ukraine. [Continue reading…]