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Russian Disinformation Campaigns re Biological Weapons in the Putin Era

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Starting only a few years after the end of World War II, in 1949, and lasting until 1988 under General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR maintained a near continuous campaign of false allegations of biological weapon use by the United States. Never in history had any other country carried on such a campaign of false BW allegations. Some individual “sub-campaigns” lasted well over a decade. At times, Soviet allies in Eastern Europe or Cuba assisted by introducing their own false BW allegations, with Cuba alone accounting for about 20 such instances.

After a pause of a few years between 1988 and 1995, senior Russian military officials began repeating the old false allegations. Russian officials amplified the campaign after the US government funded the transformation of former Soviet BW facilities in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) under the Nunn-Lugar program. The Russian disinformation campaign blossomed into a continuous propaganda campaign to which was added denial of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons for six years and Russia’s own use of an advanced organophosphate compound in an assassination attempt against a retired KGB agent living in the UK in 2018.

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