Ukrainian biological weapons, or the nonsense of the year in Russian war propaganda

Is every Russian genetically different from an American (let alone a Ukrainian) enough to kill or damage one and not touch the other? Yes, it is possible to determine the markers present in a particular individual, ergo - to eliminate him with chemical or biological agents "so that it looks like an accident". The German Chancellor or the French President, who refused a Russian coronavirus test during a visit to the Kremlin, had their reasons.

see more
In the first days of the aggression against Ukraine, it became the Kremlin's need not only to find a way to defeat Kiev, but also to justify brutal raids, bombings and rocket attacks on cities, hospitals and orphanages.

For only the Russian public or enthusiasts at Lavrov's press conferences want to hear about "denazification". Internet trolls popularise this content for money, people manipulated by them, deserving to be called useful idiots of the Kremlin - with enthusiasm, but it is still not enough.
In the minds of the propaganda specialists, therefore, a devilish idea was born, a supposedly brilliant idea, but, as I shall show shortly, a rehashed one, and in addition based on an almost phenomenal pseudoscience. What is this idea? How about accusing Ukraine of possessing and perfecting biological weapons?

The very term 'bioweapons' is a frightening one, and one hears the thud of the horses on which the riders of the Apocalypse ride. After two years of pandemics, it is all the more frightening. Add to this the vision of bats and research into equipping viruses with additional functions ('gain-function studies') to turn them into weapons, and it is hard to shake off the fear.

Only that the troll farms that are now talking about laboratories in Ukraine were previously talking about SARS-CoV-2 developed in a Chinese laboratory. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to talk about a Ukrainian lab then? The Russian invasion had been planned for at least a year anyway. This is true, but in a situation where the Kremlin has not even ensured that the army is supplied with fuel and bread, the pretexts have not been worked out either. br>
It is hard not to feel disappointed that serious world media, such as the BBC and the Washington Post, have even bothered to fact-check such revelations, instead of just knocking themselves on the forehead and explaining to the public why, simply from a scientific point of view, it is a humbug and there is no point in pursuing the subject further. What they have not done, I must, because what saddens me most about this whole issue is how a lack of knowledge in the natural sciences is once again putting the European population at risk and making self-destructive decisions.
The Russian president speaks during a concert in Moscow to mark the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, 18 March 2022. Thousands of people grouped together at Luzhniki Stadium to support Putin and the conflict in Ukraine. Photo Getty Images
Summing up the rational core of the propaganda as a whole: Russia claims (without any verifiable evidence) that biological weapons were being developed in laboratories in Ukraine, with US support, and today the Americans are destroying material evidence to hide a secret weapons programme. To prove it, Russian dignitaries appear on screen and wave some papers with a trident in the heading.

A terrorist's dream

Websites with names that include "geopolitical" and "institute", hosted in India, for example, go to great lengths to extract and cobble together several sentences from the statements of American dignitaries or the World Health Organization (WHO), framing them with the headline "we reveal!" or "we have found confirmation of our earlier reports!". It is worth noting what, from the point of view of formal logic, this last sentence says about previous reports. However, it needs to be emphatically stated here - if someone is playing at promoting conspiracy theories and telling us to "switch on our thinking", we cannot count on logic, especially formal one.

If the 'Ukrainian laboratories' story ended here, you could believe it or not. For it is clear that there are military medical laboratories or laboratories specialising in microbiology. And praise be to God! Biological weapons are the dream of state and private terrorists without honour or faith, not of serious people and those waging serious wars.

And since this is the case, it is a good thing that there are places that develop, on an ongoing basis, vaccines and antidotes to all kinds of weapons, both biological and chemical, that may come into the minds of madmen. In order to do such wonders, this laboratory must possess either the deadly microbe itself, or at least some modified, milder form of it that allows experimentation. What it possesses generally depends on the safety level of that laboratory, because scientists are not suicidal.

The Science and Technology Centre of Ukraine (STCU) is just such a place. Its aim is to reduce chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks. And that's it, just like everywhere else in the world. And the US Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP), in which the US collaborates with many partner countries, is overt and unrelated to biological weapons production. Just the opposite.

A well-frozen collection

It is also obvious to anyone who has studied the biomedical sciences that in every civilised country there are national or reference laboratories storing in their freezers, at a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius, entire collections of micro-organisms with different levels of infectivity and pathogenicity.

Therefore, it is no surprise to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the subject that the WHO, in situations of serious armed conflicts, orders the destruction of samples of infectious microorganisms in bombed-out cities - before a tragedy occurs, e.g. when such thawed samples get into watercourses, soil, etc.

War of the TikTok era. Photos, videos, analysis, open-source intelligence, detailed data on losses. Fake news and propaganda

Smartphones tell the story of Russian aggression.

see more
However, the story told by Russian officials at press conferences and sold on Russian television is much crazier than the mention of destroying some samples. When you exaggerate in Russian, you exaggerate big and bold. So not some silos filled with anthrax, or in other words spores of the anthrax bacterium, which could probably be believed, especially in places where, for geopolitical reasons, Russia has a better press and Ukraine a worse one.

No: the Russians have decided this time to run their story about biological weapons in the genre of the 'black ox' narrative, or some other conspiracy theory sounding like an urban legend. According to the information they have given to the public, the aim of the Ukrainian-American programme is to produce biological weapons based on knowledge of the Slavs' genotype and selectively effective against them. The production of such biological weapons, according to Russian experts, would "weaken geopolitical opponents from within, undermine their economies, make them weak and sick".

Of course, the story wouldn't be bought without a setting with bats, so they appear in it too, in the role of "selectors" of viruses. Even mutant hawks (one God knows why not pigeons?) function in the narrative to spread these microbes made in Ukraine against their Slav brothers. As if mere "chemitrials" from the tails of aeroplanes (which, of course, are also mentioned in this story, as it is one of the favourite themes of amateur conspiracy historians) were not enough.

Ethnic biological weapons

Readers, however, deserve not only a comment, but also an explanation of the biological crux of the matter. Where does the myth come from that Ukraine is preparing an 'ethnic biological weapon', some kind of biological-genetic attack against the peoples of the Russian Federation? From the KGB itself. For it was its alumnus Vladimir Putin who, speaking at the Human Rights Council in 2017, publicly expressed concern about the "collection of biomaterials on Russian territory".

These words of the President triggered a wave of publications in Russia about Western 'secret laboratories' which - allegedly - collect and study the biomaterials of the Russians with the intention of producing 'genetic weapons' aimed at them.

The prologue to this story was information about a tender which concerned the purchase of a small number of DNA and joint synovial samples from Russian donors of European origin. Pharmaceutical companies make such purchases time and again. Many people send in DNA samples on their own to be tested as part of the so-called genetic genealogy, which is to determine, thanks to the DNA sequence, where our ancestry comes from and how many percentages of different genetic ethnoses are mixed up in us.

So much for the conspiratorial interpretation that the order for DNA samples and joint fluid from Russia was to be used to develop mysterious 'anti-RNAs to destroy the Russian population'. Let us add - Russia as a whole, that is, together with national minorities accounting for one fifth of the population, sometimes as ethnically distant as the Chechens, Kabardians, Bashkirs and Tatars, Chuvash and Mordvins, Udmurtis, Mariis, Yakuts and Tuvinians. And, of course, the much closer Ukrainians and Belarusians, Ashkenazi Jews and Poles. Of course - these atrocities were to be carried out by the United States.
Oleg Pavlovich Balanovsky (1977-2021) Fot. Wikimedia/
Real Russian scientists, especially experts in genetics, are normal and professionally honest people. It was Professor Oleg Balanovsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences who took on the task of combating this outrageous conspiracy theory from a scientific perspective. He did not finish his fight against nonsense because he soon drowned during a holiday swim. Other scientists continued to explain why it was impossible to create 'ethnic genetic weapons'. Despite this, however, in 2020 an article appeared in about the trial of Norwegian Ingvar Thomassen, accused of exporting Russian biological material abroad.

The article cites Bolanowski's opinion that "the purpose of collecting biological data may be to study the genetics of the Earth's population, which can give an idea of the origin of humanity, its settlement on the planet and adaptation to environmental conditions. In addition, the human genome may explain the relationship of genes to the development of diseases". And on the back of this another spiral of accusations was unleashed.

Just because geneticists study the DNA of different populations of Earth's inhabitants (and archaic DNA) does not mean that every Russian is genetically different from an American (let alone a Ukrainian) enough to be able to kill or damage one and not touch the other. It would be impossible to do so - even if anyone learned to "program" viruses.

There are no national markers Meanwhile, as the aforementioned Bolanowski explained in Forbes magazine in 2018, the very concept of a "targeted" viral weapon could be, yes, for people with a racist and genocidal mentality, appealing. "We take a genome trait (a so-called marker) that representatives of only one nation possess - and create a virus that attacks only people with that marker!"

However, as the Russian scientist explains, "this concept is impossible to realize, because the 'national' markers simply DO NOT EXIST. As specialists in population genetics, we allowed for such a possibility theoretically, but now, after deciphering whole genomes of people of different nationalities, we have become convinced in practice that none of the three billion letters of the DNA sequence of our genome encodes such information."

Quite simply: we are not homogeneous. The entire Eurasian population of the world is descended from a few thousand migrants from Africa with a few admixtures that we owe, for example, to Neanderthals. The original American or Australian populations (Aborigines) also derive mostly from the original African migration. Due to slavery, African genes were strongly mixed with other ethnoses. Consequently, we are all genetically similar. Any virus "targeted" at a particular marker - would hit across borders, transnationally, transethnically even.

There was "fascist Poland,", there is "Nazi Ukraine". Kremlin school of propaganda

These are simple, even primitive methods - but probably effective towards a section of the Russian population.

see more
Yes, it is already possible to determine the markers present in a particular individual and, consequently, to prepare a way of eliminating that individual by means of chemical or biological agents 'so that it looks like an accident'. The German Chancellor or the French President who, during a visit to the Kremlin, refused a Russian test for coronavirus were right. After all, in such a test, it is possible to obtain as many cells from a given individual as would suffice to reconstruct its full genome.

Handle preferably with gloves

In turn, by studying the genome of the president or prime minister, it is possible to detect, for example, an unusual hypersensitivity to a commonly used drug or a basic illness. With knowledge of individual sensitivities, it is even possible to imagine a situation in which giving a dignitary a food or drink that is indifferent to others (such as grapefruit juice) can at least cause indisposition, if not kill him.

It is not surprising, therefore, that serious countries also take care of their leaders in such a way that they wipe their handrails, doorknobs and handles with special substances, immediately remove dishes, such as glasses they have used, etc. But population-wise, and even within a single family, such things cannot be done.

In addition - paradoxically - this conspiratorial, paranoid vision is contradictory: after all, IF (as Putin claims in his keynote speeches) "Ukrainians and Russians were one people" - well, in that case, by producing biological weapons "aimed" at Russians, they would be working on an instrument of self-destruction, wouldn't they?

"The myth of genetic weapons has been operating in Russia for more than thirty years and is endemic there. In 2019, an expert commission of the Russian Academy of Sciences formulated a special opinion stressing its unfoundedness. This opinion was published by the Russian Academy of Sciences, but the text sank in the sea of incompetent horror stories that flooded the media," Professor Balanovsky told Forbes before drowning.

What are biological weapons really? How can it work and why is it often double-edged? A typical biological weapon, explains Prof. Piotr Rieske, MD, PhD, of the Medical University of Lodz, is an infectious agent (pathogen) which kills or causes a disease in humans, animals or plants which are essential to human life and economy. In contrast to chemical weapons, typical biological weapons are living organisms or replicating agents that multiply/replicate in the victims' bodies (exceptions are toxins, such as botulinum one).

Many biological weapons are considered double-edged because it is relatively easy for people who are attacked by them to re-infect their attackers. The Scottish island of Gruinar, where anthrax was tested, could not be decontaminated and remained polluted for several decades. In addition, the infectious agent can mutate and change, so it is difficult to find a vaccine or antidote that would always be effective for the party using biological weapons.
After the 9/11 attacks, US company ILC began developing Scapehood devices to protect against chemical warfare agents and biological, radiological and nuclear particles. Photo by Kevin Heslin/Getty Images
"In my opinion, one of the things the Russians want to do is to create the impression that everyone is producing biological weapons and that everyone is a war criminal", adds Professor Rieske. "If one succumbs to this propaganda, it will be more difficult to punish the aggressor for genuine crimes. If there is an epidemic in the besieged cities (in a large city without a sewage treatment plant it is a matter of days), the Russians will try to blame it on the Ukrainians. It is also about provoking anti-Ukrainian hysteria.

Once a beetle, now a pathogen

Preparing propaganda clichés, especially those for external use, is usually not easy for the attacking side. Meanwhile, Russia, focused on a quick victory, was forced to improvise. Instead of a parade in Kiev, we see columns of Russian tanks running out of fuel, starving paupers, demonstrations and protests by the inhabitants of Ukrainian border towns.

Hence the disinformation content - increasingly revolving around the theme of some secret and/or dangerous activity within Ukraine that the Russians want to curb. In a sense, history is repeating itself: the response to the "American potato beetle attack" in the 1950s.

The Soviet Union accused US aircraft of landing this beetle over Eastern Bloc countries, while in 2015, US laboratories in former Soviet republics were accused of making the virus for the massive outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Russia. What to make of the fact that the disease was first observed in Africa in 1910?

Similarly, in the early 1980s, the KGB spread claims that a US-funded research project in Pakistan was sending 'killer mosquitoes' to Afghanistan. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the security officials admitted to fabricating this news, but Russian disinformation about biological weapons resumed in earnest after Vladimir Putin took control of the state in 1999.

Kicking ourselves with the horse of Russian propaganda is pointless. The most important thing is to explain the simple truth that for objective reasons such an "ethnic genetic weapon" - which is perhaps one of Vladimir Vladimirovich's dreams (is it projection?) - simply cannot be done.

– Magdalena Kawalec-Segond
– Translated by Tomasz Krzyżanowski

• http://xn--c1acc6aafa1c.xn--p1ai/?page_id=32898&fbclid=IwAR0n32dUsLDvOoyNBc7KnahGIkGGPH0cnd7W7Y3ru9Wf7BchUgRZbALS3cc
Main photo: A Polish volunteer before leaving for Ukraine, 5 March 2022 in Krakow, Poland. About 40 members of the Polish Legion organization traveled to Lviv to help the Ukrainian army. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
See more
Civilization wydanie 22.12.2023 – 29.12.2023
To Siberia and Ukraine
Zaporizhzhia. A soldier in a bunker asked the priest for a rosary and to teach him how to make use of it.
Civilization wydanie 15.12.2023 – 22.12.2023
Climate sheikhs. Activists as window dressing
They can shout, for which they will be rewarded with applause
Civilization wydanie 15.12.2023 – 22.12.2023
The plane broke into four million pieces
Americans have been investigating the Lockerbie bombing for 35 years.
Civilization wydanie 15.12.2023 – 22.12.2023
German experiment: a paedophile is a child's best friend
Paedophiles received subsidies from the Berlin authorities for "taking care" of the boys.
Civilization wydanie 8.12.2023 – 15.12.2023
The mastery gene
The kid is not a racehorse.