Russia says it has uncovered a military biological weapons programme in Ukraine, claims described by the US as “absurd propaganda”.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters: “We can conclude that in Ukrainian laboratories close to our borders, components of biological weapons were being developed.
“The urgent destruction of these materials was ordered in order not to disclose the materials and the programmes that were being made there.”
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It involved deadly pathogens including plague and anthrax, she said.
Moscow called on Washington to explain “Ukrainian biological weapons labs”.
Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman of the Russian Defence Ministry, said: “It is obvious that in the wake of the special military operation, the Pentagon started having serious concerns about secret biological experiments uncovered on the Ukrainian territory.
“The uncovered documents confirm that components for chemical weapons were developed in Ukrainian bio-labs in immediate proximity to Russia.”
However, a US official dismissed the claim as “absurd propaganda” and accused Russia of seeking retroactive pretexts for the war.
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The European Union said it doubted the credibility of Russian claims, saying Moscow had a history of spreading disinformation about biological weapons.
“The credibility of information provided by Kremlin is in general very doubtful and low,” EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said.
“Russian disinformation has a track record of promoting manipulative narratives about biological weapons and alleged ‘secret labs’.”
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He added the EU was not aware of any Ukrainian laboratories not in line with international law.
A Ukrainian presidential spokesperson said: “Ukraine strictly denies any such allegation.”