A Russian microbiologist is refuting Russian Defense Ministry claims of biological weapons labs in Ukraine, arguing the propaganda campaign is stretching the definition of pathogens by praying on the lack of understanding of the research.
"The calculation is simply that people do not read either Ukrainian or Latin and do not know the names of pathogens," Yevgeny Levitin, Ph.D., told Sibir.Realii, according to a Google translation from CurrentTimeTV. "That's how propaganda works. The Ministry of Defense made a false, unfounded statement – and now, if I talk to people, 90% of them will say: 'Bioweapons were made in Ukraine.'
"No one has read the attached documents. And those who have read it will say: 'Well, yes, maybe there are no dangerous pathogens in these documents. But they don't tell us about it for nothing. Maybe there are dangerous strains in other documents that cannot be published openly.' This kind of reaction is also possible.
"All this is propaganda in its pure, distilled form. Lies without any basis."
The pathogen research was reportedly funded by the Pentagon, but Levitin said he felt compelled to write an open letter refuting the Russian claims of biological weapons research because "they wrote pure lies," according to the translation of his remarks.
"This is a deliberate lie, which is not justified in any way," he added. "This will become obvious to any person who takes the trouble to simply carefully read the documents attached to the allegation of the creation of biological weapons in Ukraine.
"Compare it with the list of so-called especially dangerous infections. There is nothing of the kind in the published list of compounds utilized in Poltava and Kharkov laboratories."
Among the pathogens listed in the documents, according to a translation of Levitin's remarks:
- Corynebacterium diphtheriae: "Potentially dangerous, but completely unsuitable for widespread strain of the causative agent of diphtheria. It is very difficult to contract diphtheria until a full spoonful of this culture is poured down your throat."
- Corynebacterium pseudodiphteriticum: "Bacteria that are part of the normal microflora of the human upper respiratory tract and skin. This is already a purely conditional pathogen. It can harm human health only in conditions of immune deficiency."
- Corynebacterium xerosis: An inflammatory that is "rather unpleasant, but it is easily treated."
- Basillus liheniformus "C": A "strain you deal with all the time. It is found anywhere, even in yesterday's borscht."
- Baсillus stearothermophilus: "An opportunistic pathogen, but again, this bacillus needs to be ingested in quantity to be harmful, and even in an immunocompromised person it will not cause dangerous disease."
Levitin went through the entire list of pathogens cited by Kremlin propaganda as having been "destroyed" in Ukraine laboratories, including staphilococcusaureus, escherichia coli, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and klebsiella pneumoniae.
"If the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation discovers in Ukraine the documents of laboratories that have official permission to work with dangerous strains, this will also not be surprising or terrible," Levitin continued. "But the military department did not bother to wait for even such a pretext for propaganda. Perhaps they didn't have time for that.
"It seems to me that the statement on the development of biological weapons in Ukraine was prepared and agreed in advance. After all, immediately after the statement of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the official representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, spoke, who called on the United States to clarify its activities in biological militarization.
"The Chinese representative tried to inflate the panic by saying that there are American biological laboratories operating in Ukraine, on which the United States spends hundreds of millions of dollars, and these laboratories are clearly doing something wrong."
But Levitin noted seeing American dollars in the global scientific research community is very "common practice."
"The cost of labor in Ukraine is much less than in America," he added. "And if some American company needs to get a certain protein in order to carry out immunization or increase biomass in order to study the effect of a certain substance on microbes, then it is 10 times cheaper to do it in Ukraine than in America. Therefore, Americans certainly use this outsourcing.
"Similarly, American firms outsource some of their work to China, Vietnam, or India. In Russia, this was also common, until international cooperation began to be strangled in our country.
"Laboratories fulfilling orders for foreign firms can be of various types, not only biological, but also chemical and geological. Science is generally global, it is not tied to any one country. If a biolaboratory in Ukraine works with money from the United States, this does not mean that it is developing biological weapons.
"In addition, it is unlikely that there are laboratories in Ukraine that do not work entirely for private firms, but for such U.S. government agencies as the National Institutes of Health. Ukraine has been a poor country for too long, and there are few specialists left who could carry out such serious orders as the development of biological weapons. Most of them, unfortunately, have already left.
"A good specialist will prefer to work in America for dollars, and not in Ukraine for hryvnias. Actually, the situation is the same in Russia."
The propaganda was so quickly and easily refuted by scientists, the Russian disinformation campaign just did not concern itself with facts, but quick, wartime messaging, Levitin concluded.
"After all, the accusation of creating biological weapons is urgently needed, right now – not in six months and not for the international community," he said. "It is designed for an immediate effect among Russians. And all foreign experts who see this statement are simply amazed.
"It is a pity that in Russia it is now possible to publish such absurd fakes. In other times it was impossible to imagine anything like this."
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