Directly confrontational U.S. and Russian narratives on the threat of weapons of mass destruction being deployed in Ukraine
One of the main issues on the agenda of NATO’s urgent summit yesterday in Brussels called by U.S. President Joe Biden was the threat that Russia will use weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine out of frustration with its stalled assault on the country for lack of manpower and sufficient conventional armaments.
In his speech, which was partially aired on European television, Biden directed particular attention to the risk of chemical attack in Ukraine, which he said would elicit a response ‘in kind,’ without elaborating. Meanwhile, today’s Financial Times quotes NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as follows: the Alliance had now activated its chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense elements. Per the FT:
“We are taking measures both to support Ukraine and to defend ourselves,” [Stoltenberg] told reporters at the summit in Brussels on Thursday, adding that Nato was concerned by Russia’s rhetoric regarding chemical and nuclear weapons and its history of using chemical agents against its enemies, as well as its support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, where chemical weapons had been used.”
These are very serious allegations and merit a minute or two of semantic and factual parsing before we proceed.
First, there is today no Russian ‘rhetoric’ at all regarding its own planned use of chemical and nuclear weapons in the Ukrainian theater. They have mentioned chemical weapons only with respect to an expected ‘false flag’ operation which the Ukrainian nationalists may carry out by releasing into the atmosphere toxic chemicals stored in one or another Ukrainian factory so as to blame advancing Russian forces for an “attack.” One such incident was already reported on Russian news in the past week, though the ammonia leaks were quickly repaired and there was no harm to nearby Ukrainian villagers.
With respect to Russia’s supposed “history of using chemical agents against its enemies,” we can well imagine that the author had in mind the Novichok poisoning of the Skripals and of Alexei Navalny or the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko several years ago. These cases were proven only in the court of public opinion thanks to heavy pressure on the media from the British government. There is good reason to suppose that they were all MI6 operations intended to discredit the Russian government, not actual Russian attacks. Similarly the supposed chemical attacks on his opponents by al-Assad were very likely ‘false flag’ operations by one or another Jihadi group aided by Western intelligence operatives.
But let us put these contentious issues aside for a moment and ask whether the Russians have any reason whatsoever to resort to weapons that violate all international conventions for the sake of victory in their Ukraine campaign. On the basis of available information about the state of the fighting, rumored losses of personnel and depletion of conventional weapons, there are no reasons for such action by the Russians. All evidence suggests that the Russian campaign has been conducted so far with a view to reducing civilian deaths to a minimum. The UN agency responsible for monitoring such things has reported a little over 2,000 deaths in the first month of the Russian military operation. This is absolutely miniscule for a campaign of this magnitude. U.S. forces inflicted hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in their own operations in Iraq in 2003 at this stage in the fighting. Moreover, the recent slowdown in the Russian offensive may be little more than a regrouping for continued assault when fresh reserves and equipment arrive. The heaviest fighting, in Mariupol, appears to be headed for total Russian victory in a matter of days, despite the city having been held by the fanatical nationalist Azov battalion in addition to substantial regular army units. Chechen forces deployed in Mariupol yesterday claimed to have taken the municipal government buildings and to control a large part of the city. Once Mariupol is secure, the large Russian contingent besieging the city will likely be moved north to facilitate encirclement and destruction of the main Ukrainian military force encamped west of the line of demarcation with Donbas.
One further sign that supposed Russian setbacks of a scale that would give rise to drastic change in their conduct of the war is nothing more than a bare-faced lie was the remark by Biden in answer to a journalist’s question at yesterday’s press conference in NATO headquarters. Would the United States agree to Ukraine’s making territorial concessions to Russia for the sake of a cease-fire and peace? Said Biden, that decision is entirely up to the Kiev authorities. The remark is as good as confirmation that Ukraine is losing the war and will have to sue for peace.
If I am correct and there is no factual or logical basis to assume that the Russians will deploy internationally prohibited weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine, then why all the noise about it? To answer that question, you have to turn to Russian media.
Yesterday’s Russian television broadcasts give you the answer. Programming was filled with one dominant issue: the documentary evidence that Russian military investigators have found in their seizure of biological laboratories in Ukraine financed by the Pentagon and curated by Americans. The Russians are asserting that these labs were being used to conduct internationally prohibited development of biological weapons. They provide details on the various toxins produced there and on human experiments, including on Ukrainian soldiers, resulting in multiple fatalities and hospitalizations. The documents and other evidence were shown on the screen quickly, but I have no doubt that they will be properly published in the days ahead.
Perhaps most damaging in the present U.S. – Russian confrontation which has become so personalized on the two presidents is that the Russians are publicizing documents showing that Joe’s son Hunter was directly involved in the work of the criminal biological labs through a company of his that operated in Ukraine during the presidency of Barack Obama.
If true, then the Biden family is up to its neck in criminal activity and yesterday’s Public Relations push against Russia over weapons of mass destruction is just a smoke screen to conceal the real culprits.
By the way, the second featured item on Russian television yesterday was ceremonies in Belgrade to mark the anniversary of the two month NATO aerial bombardment of the Serbian capital that began on this day in 1999 and resulted in over 4,000 civilian deaths, including from use of uranium based bombs, and the destruction of most of the civil infrastructure of the city. Russian television showed a video of Biden, then a U.S. Senator, calling for this massive attack, which the Russians, alongside the Serbs, consider to have been a war crime.
I have in recent weeks spoken of the Russian and Western media reporting on the Ukraine war as ‘parallel worlds.’ Regrettably, I was wrong. They are, in fact, converging lines and when they meet there will be hell to pay.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022