As debates over the origin of the Wuhan coronavirus rage on, new voices join the discussion.
Russian media sources suggest the novel disease, provisionally known as 2019-nCoV, could be an American made bio-weapon designed to sabotage China.
The claims have had significant airtime on mainstream Russian media and could be part of Vladimir Putin’s efforts to discredit U.S interests in the region.
This comes at a time when the rapidly expanding outbreak has grown to infect more than 8,000 people with 170 fatalities. Russia has closed its border with China in response to the threats.
The recent tensions between the United States and China are well known. The conflict is seen as a great power struggle between an established superpower and its burgeoning rival. The conflict’s scope ranges from a trade war to disputes over the South China Sea and 5G internet.
Some in Russia believe these tensions have pushed the United States’ government to take drastic actions to achieve its goals.
Igor Nikulin, a former member of the U.N. Commission on Biological and Chemical Weapons, claims he was contacted by Chinese colleagues who believe the coronavirus is man-made.
Nikulin states the following:
It all looks like sabotage. First of all, this is the city of Wuhan – it’s the center of the country, a major transportation hub, plus now the Chinese New Year – hundreds of millions of Chinese will travel around the country to relatives, acquaintances, and so on.
Nikulin goes on to make an even more stunning (and perhaps implausible) suggestion — that American corporations may have created the Wuhan coronavirus to make money off a cure.
It can be beneficial for American corporations that are developing these kinds of new diseases just for profit. Or maybe for the Americans themselves, because America is the only country that has 400 military biological laboratories around the world, not only around Russia but also around China, in Malaysia, in Indonesia, in the Philippines – the US military is everywhere.
Nikulin isn’t the only notable Russian spouting these extreme claims. Politicians are also using the opportunity to bash America. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a leader of the Russian LDPR, has publicly stated that America could have caused the crisis to undermine Chinese economic power while making tons of money in the process.
Pharmacists will become billionaires in 2020, and everyone will quickly forget everything.
Some in China take these suggestions seriously. But according to Hu Xijin, an editor at the Global Times, most don’t believe it.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the closure of Russia’s far eastern border to stop Wuhan coronavirus from spreading into the country. According to the Moscow Times , 16 of the 25 crossings between the two countries will be closed by midnight Jan. 31.
So far, there have been no known cases of Wuhan coronavirus reported in Russia.