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Right-wingers flirt with Ukraine bioweapons conspiracy theory

The far-right movement is merging some of its craziest beliefs into one wildly dangerous, unfounded claim.


Far-right conspiracy theorists are latching onto a new unfounded claim that merges the movement’s peddling of Covid disinformation, its affinity for Russia and its disdain for Ukraine

The baseless theory claims former President Donald Trump is working with the Russian government to destroy bioweapon labs run by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads the Biden administration's Covid pandemic response.

At the risk of stating the obvious, that's wildly false.

But the lie has made the rounds in far-right circles. And there are a couple reasons — aside from delusion — it’s taken hold.

Conservatives, as we well know, aren’t inclined to let facts get in the way of a self-serving lie.

For starters, the theory aligns with Russian disinformation — which is favored by some on the right these days — and contradicts guidance from the Biden administration.

Victoria Nuland, the U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, testified before a Senate panel on Tuesday that the White House was concerned Russia could gain access to Ukraine’s “biological research facilities.” She said the U.S. was working with Ukraine to prevent Russia from obtaining access to the materials inside. 

Nuland had been referring to Ukrainian diagnostic and biodefense labs, which counter biological threats and are not biological weapons facilities, the State Department told The New York Times.

Nonetheless, Donald Trump Jr., Fox News host Tucker Carlson and journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose opinions have increasingly aligned with the far-right, suggested Nuland's testimony revealed the U.S. was engaged in nefarious activity that could provoke Russia. 

There’s no evidence their claims are true. As Covid conspiracy theories took hold in 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine issued a statement acknowledging a U.S.-Ukraine partnership to research pathogens and develop vaccines in Ukrainian facilities. The statement was meant to "set the record straight regarding disinformation spreading in some circles in Ukraine that mirrors Russian disinformation," the embassy said.

The U.S. has been in partnership with Ukraine to prevent the spread of infectious diseases since at least 2005

On Wednesday, as the bioweapons conspiracy theory ballooned thanks to its high-profile promoters, the Biden White House warned that Russia might push the claim as a pretext to launch a chemical attack in the country it has invaded.

But conservatives, as we well know, aren’t inclined to let facts get in the way of a self-serving lie.