Moscow says that claims it was spearheading a disinformation campaign against US-made coronavirus vaccines to boost its own homegrown shot were “absurd and groundless.”
The comments come a day after Washington said Russian intelligence was behind four websites involved in a campaign to undermine US-made vaccines, accusing Russia of putting lives at risk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov calls the allegations “absurd and groundless.”
“Russia has never taken part and is not going to take part in such information campaigns against other vaccines,” Peskov tells reporters.
On the contrary, he said, Russia was cooperating with foreign vaccine producers “to make a more effective product.”
“We’ve always been against politicizing any issues related to the vaccine in any way,” he says.
Peskov adds that once vaccines are tested and approved “they should be produced as much as possible to save the entire world from the coronavirus and save as many human lives as possible.”
Putin has boasted that Russia has developed the world’s best vaccines against the coronavirus, insisting last week they were better than the Pfizer and AstraZeneca shots.
The Global Engagement Center — an arm of the State Department whose activities include monitoring foreign propaganda — made the claims of Russian disinformation on Monday.
The four online platforms spread “disinformation about two of the vaccines that have now been approved by the FDA in this country,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, referring to the US Food and Drug Administration.
US intelligence has long suspected Russia in disinformation campaigns on health, including spreading the myth in the 1980s that US scientists created the HIV virus that causes AIDS.