The U.S. is planning to use chemical weapons in Ukraine and pin the blame on Russia, according to the most recent shaky claims from the Kremlin, the latest salvo in the ongoing propaganda war.
What has Russia said?
Let’s rewind slightly and go back a week to comments made by U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, who said there was evidence that Moscow’s troops “plan to use chemical weapons in the ‘special military operation’ area.”
It appears to have taken the Kremlin a few days to decide what to do with that claim, but they have now decided to try and flip it on its head and accuse the U.S. and its allies of doing the exact same thing.
Speaking on Tuesday, Igor Kirillov, chief of the radiation, chemical and biological defence troops of Russia’s armed forces, said: “We regard this information as the intention of the United States itself and its accomplices to conduct a provocation in Ukraine with the use of toxic chemicals.
“They expect that in the conditions of hostilities, the international community will not be able to organize an effective investigation, as a result of which the real organizers and executors can avoid responsibility, and the blame will be placed on Russia.”
He added that Russia “will identify and punish the true culprits.”
What evidence has either side presented?
The U.S. didn’t elaborate but Russia went all out and put together a power point presentation accusing “foreign citizens” of delivering toxic chemicals including the incapacitating agent BZ, to the Kramatorsk Metallurgical Plant in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.
It contained a number of slides but the closest thing to actual evidence, was a Google Maps view of Kramatorsk overlaid with some pictures of some boxes clearly just taken from the internet.
So how do we know what’s actually going on?
Track records are a good place to start – first up, Russia’s track record of false flag claims.
The Kremlin perfected the use of false flag claims in Syria, where on a regular basis, it would claim that the those fighting its military ally, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, were going to use chemical weapons.
There have been hundreds of documented chemical weapons attacks in Syria and Assad’s forces have been found responsible for almost all of them, under the cover provided by Russia.
Most recently, the Syrian regime was found responsible by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for a poison gas attack that killed 43 people in a suburb of Damascus in 2018.
Then there are the numerous occasions when Russia itself has used chemical weapons to carry out assassinations abroad, most notably the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 and the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in 2018. Both occurred on U.K. soil.
Surely no one actually believes the Russians?
Unfortunately this isn’t the case and a small but vocal minority of people in the West still refuse to see what everyone else can see so clearly.
In the U.K. for instance, a group of academics at some of the country’s top universities have long-promoted baseless conspiracy theories and actively promoted the Kremlin’s false claims, including a the United Nations.
What about the U.S.?
The U.S. does not have a flawless historical record in this field, but in terms of chemical weapons in modern history, it’s a safe bet to assume that Russia is doing the fibbing.
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John Sullivan is not US Ambassador to Russia