Russia is trying to use baseless claims of a secret Ukrainian bioweapons program as a pretext to seize sensitive facilities in the country, top U.S. intelligence officials warned senators on Thursday.
“Clearly, there is a difference between bioresearch centers and bioweapons centers. Is there anything you can do to help clarify some of the things that are already floating? Because I’m fearful that this could be the new direction of a Russian false flag operation,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner asked CIA Director William Burns on Thursday.
“Unlike Russia, which does have chemical weapons and has used them, and does do biological weapons research and has for years, Ukraine has neither,” Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, replied.
Burns noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has used chemical weapons in recent years to assassinate his opponents. “And when you couple that with their demonstrated willingness to create false flag operations and try to create the impression that somehow Ukrainians are responsible for this, that should give us all pretty serious reason for concern about their propaganda,” Burns added.
The Kremlin claimed Wednesday that the U.S. was working covertly with Ukraine to develop bioweapons. The U.S., which ended its own biological and chemical weapons programs decades ago, denies the allegations, saying the Ukrainian labs are left over from the Soviet era and are not used in research for or production of weapons.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration warned Wednesday that Russia may be planning to use chemical weapons in its ongoing war against Ukraine. Press secretary Jen Psaki repeated that concern Thursday at the start of the White House press briefing.
“They have a large biological and chemical weapons program, so it’s a pattern. But they also have the capacity. While I’m not going to get into specific intelligence, we look at all of those factors,” Psaki said. “We also know … Russia has a history also of inventing outright lies like this.”Story c
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