The Claim that USA is Involved in Deliberate Spreading of the Bird Flu is a Russian Disinformation Narrative
Transmission electron micrograph of influenza A virus, late passage…CDC/Dr. Erskine Palmer, 1981
By carefully looking at everything that was published on this topic up to date, one can clearly see that claiming that the Pentagon was deliberately infecting birds in the current war in Ukraine is just part of the Russian disinformation narrative spread for the purpose of justifying its invasion from 24.02.2022
Post on the social network Facebook (screenshot here) claims that the USA is deliberately infecting migratory birds with bird flu, which brings 40 percent fatality for the infected, thereby spreading deadly diseases among people. Such a claim is not substantiated by any evidence and facts and is part of the Russian disinformation directed toward the USA and Ukraine.
What does Pentagon have to do with researching the resistance to drugs against Bird Flu (which is 40% fatal for the infected) in the population of Donbas and with the possible redirection of the flights of migratory birds that were previously “accidentally” infected? Rumour has it, I mean… states the post we are fact-checking.
Firstly, the post does not specify to whom the claim is directed – about bird flu being 40 percent fatal for the infected – is it for the people or for the birds? If referring to the people, then it is not true.
The bird flu pandemic started spreading on a global level in 2020.
Bird flu is a respiratory disease in birds caused by influenza A viruses. Viruses are classified into two categories: low pathogenic avian influenza viruses and high pathogenic influenza viruses. The latter is extremely deadly for the infected poultry.
The risk of bird flu for humans is low, but the strain H5N1 has killed 458 people out of 874 cases in the last 20 years, informed World Health Organization.
Claiming that the USA is training and deliberately infecting birds to spread deadly diseases among people is part of the well-known Russian narrative that stemmed from previous uncorroborated claims and allegations that the USA was producing bio-weapons in Ukraine.
The claim that the USA was intentionally infecting and training birds appeared in 2022 and is just one of the many false claims offered by Russia to justify its current invasion of Ukraine, including the unfounded claim that Ukrainian authorities committed genocide against ethnic Russians.
As reported by Newsweek, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, the chief spokeman for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, talked about the plot in November 2022 in an interview for RIA Novosti, a TV media outlet controlled by the Russian Government.
Konashenkov claimed that US forces had planned to infect birds with a spreadable form of the H5N1 flu strain with a “mortality rate of 50 percent”, as well as Newcastle Disease.
The Newcastle Disease is a contagious, fatal bird disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
The RIA Novosti broadcast reportedly included maps, documents and photographs of birds bearing the US coat of arms. Konashenkov said Russian military authorities had also captured some of the infected birds from the so-called Kherson Reserve in Ukraine.
The US did briefly try to train pigeons to guide bombs towards highly specified targets in a World War II-era effort dubbed “Project Pigeon”, but the birds were never used on the battlefield and the project was scrapped in 1953, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, reported Newsweek.
Konashenkov’s claim came on the heels of Russia’s baseless claim that the Pentagon has been financing and experimenting with “Bat Coronavirus” to create biological weapons in Ukraine involving birds, bats and reptiles.
US State Department spokesman called the claim “outright lies” and “total nonsense” adding:
These claims have been debunked conclusively and repeatedly over many years.
John Kirby, the spokesperson of Pentagon described the allegations as “absurd”, “laughable” and “propaganda”. White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, also called the claims “preposterous”, Newsweek writes.
Russia could be using the claims to lay the groundwork for a chemical or biological attack, stated Psaki, adding that Russia’s bio-weapons claim is just the latest Russian disinformation attempt to justify its invasion of Ukraine.
Konashenkov’s allegations were previously made public by the Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, in March 2022, stressing that birds, bats and insects supposedly intended to spread disease would cross Ukraine’s Western border, Guardian writes.
We call upon you to think about a very real biological danger to the people in the European countries, which can result from an uncontrolled spread of bio agents from Ukraine. And if there is such a scenario, then all Europe will be covered. The risk of this is very real given the interests of the radical nationalist groups in Ukraine are showing towards the work with dangerous pathogens conducted together with the Ministry of Defence of the United States, said Nebenzya.
The United Nations High Representative for Disarmament, Izumi Nakamitse, said the UN was ”not aware of any biological weapons programs” in Ukraine, and pointed out there was an official channel for governments to raise any concerns about violations of the biological and toxin weapons convention banning their use.
In response to Nebenzya’s claims, several Member-States on the Security Council warned that it could be a disinformation campaign ahead of a planned Russian attack inside Ukraine.
The intent behind these lies seems clear and it is deeply troubling. We believe Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations as part of a false flag incident or to support tactical military operations, said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, reported Guardian.
From all of the above-noted facts we can conclude that no evidence whatsoever is available that the USA intentionally is infecting birds and afterwards trains them to infect people. Such allegations are part of the Russian narrative disseminated last year after publishing the fake news about the alleged bio-laboratories of the Pentagon in Ukraine.
Therefore, we assess the fact-checked post as untrue.
This article was produced within the framework of the project “Promoting Access to Reliable News to Counter Disinformation”, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, which has been published on the Macedonian-language version of Truthmeter, was produced with the support of the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The contents of the article is the responsibility of the author and do not always reflect the positions of Metamorphosis Foundation, NED or their partners.