Republican Senator Mitt Romney accused former Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard on Sunday of repeating Russian “propaganda” after she claimed that the U.S. is involved in biological labs in Ukraine.
tweeted. “Her treasonous lies may well cost lives.” His remarks came after Gabbard, who hails from Hawaii, posted a video on Twitter Sunday morning in which she claimed that there are “25 to 30 U.S. funded bio labs in Ukraine.”
“According to the U.S government, these bio labs are conducting research on dangerous pathogens,” she said in the video. “These pathogens know no borders, if they are inadvertently or purposely breached or compromised, they will quickly spread all throughout Europe, the United States and the rest of the world causing untold suffering and death.”
The former congresswoman said that in order to protect everyone around the world, “these labs need to be shut down immediately and the pathogens that they hold need to be destroyed.” The U.S. and Ukrainian governments have both denied the existence of bioweapons facilities in Ukraine, according to The Independent.
This week, Florida Senator Marco Rubio asked the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland if Ukraine does in fact have biological or chemical weapons. Nuland responded that “Ukraine has biological research facilities,” adding, that she is concerned that “Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of” them.
“So we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach,” she said.
However, a State Department spokesperson told Newsweek on Wednesday that the “biological research facilities” that Nuland mentioned are actually in reference to “Ukrainian diagnostic and biodefense laboratories” and confirmed that they “are not biological weapons facilities.”
“These institutions counter biological threats throughout the country,” the spokesperson added, and also confirmed that the country is “in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC),” while “the same cannot be said for Russia, which has an active biological weapons program and is in violation of the BWC.”
Echoing the State Department’s comments, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that Russia’s allegation of U.S. biological weapons labs is false.
“We took note of Russia’s false claims about alleged U.S. biological weapons labs and chemical weapons development in Ukraine. We’ve also seen Chinese officials echo these conspiracy theories,” Psaki wrote in a series of tweets.
“This is preposterous. It’s the kind of disinformation operation we’ve seen repeatedly from the Russians over the years in Ukraine and in other countries, which have been debunked, and an example of the types of false pretexts we have been warning the Russians would invent,” she added.