- One of the reasons given by Russia to justify its invasion of Ukraine is that it is trying to prevent the development of biological weapons by the United States. Somehow, Nigeria has now found its name in this web of controversy.
- The laboratories pictured in the graphic shared by the Russian government are not secret facilities and were set up to contain outbreaks of diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, Ebola, and COVID-19.
- Though they receive funding support from the U.S. government, there is no evidence any of the laboratories are militarised or used for anything other than promoting public health and safety.
- The United States invests in biological laboratories as a way of addressing emerging infectious threats in partner countries before they spread to other parts of the world, including its territories.
- There is no evidence supporting the claim that the latest monkeypox outbreak was caused by pathogens released from a laboratory.
- Nigeria likely does not have the expertise and equipment required to safely research and manage highly contagious agents.
Twitter account user AZ OSINT (@AZmilitary1) on Friday, May 27, shared a collage of pictures said to prove the existence of U.S.-sponsored bio-laboratories in Nigeria not unconnected with the recent monkeypox outbreak.
“Russia Ministry of Defense published photos as evidence of existence of bio-laboratories in Nigerira [sic] (they have released more material we hope to have time to translate it for you), related to monkey smallpox spreading, currently there are 4 RU biolabs in NG,” tweeted the anonymous account that has frequently posted pro-Russian propaganda.
In a second tweet, the Twitter user shared a link to a Telegram post. The channel, Минобороны России (Ministry of Defense of Russia) is validated by the verified Twitter handle of Russia’s Defence Ministry.
While the Telegram channel has over 345,000 subscribers, AZ OSINT’s tweet has been shared over 420 times and is liked by more than 390 other users of the microblogging platform. The report has also found its way to numerous news platforms and blogs. A look through the reactions to the tweet shows that many people welcome the possibility that the claims may be true.
Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which started in February, has been unpopular and condemned widely. Because of this, the country has given different reasons in an attempt to justify the war, partly to win over the support of Russian nationals. One of those reasons is that the United States is allegedly implementing “military-biological activities” through Ukrainian laboratories, in violation of international law, which could pose danger to its people.
These claims have, however, been debunked. The U.S. insists Russia is twisting the facts to suit its agenda and that its programmes are in fact aimed at reducing “the threat of biological weapons proliferation”.
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