06:26 GMT25 October 2020
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    According to the head of the UK's Armed Forces, General Sir Nick Carter, "Russia is spreading lies about COVID vaccines" in an effort to destabilise countries across the world and added that this is a propaganda tactic that reflects a strategy of "political warfare".

    Political commentator George Szamuely has weighed in on whether these were typical unfounded Russophobic sentiments as well as on the prospect of a Russian vaccine in an interview with Sputnik.

    Sputnik: The UK’s Military Chief, General Sir Nick Carter has accused Russia of sowing disinformation about coronavirus vaccines he called it pro-Russian vaccine politics “and said it was a Propaganda tactic that reflected political warfare. Is this unfounded Russophobia or is there any evidence behind his claims?

    Szamuely: Well if there is evidence, we've yet to see it. The way these things work is that you just throw an accusation out against Russia and nobody ever asks for evidence. It's always assumed to be true. And it's always hard to keep up with the accusations.

    One minute, we're told that the Russians are spreading disinformation about the efficacy of vaccines, they're suddenly the leaders of the global anti-vaccine movement. Next minute, the Russians are supposedly marketing their own vaccine to try to get ahead of the Western vaccine.

    In this handout photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, and provided by Russian Direct Investment Fund, a new vaccine is on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia
    © AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr
    In this handout photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, and provided by Russian Direct Investment Fund, a new vaccine is on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia

    So it's, it's very hard to keep track of what it is that the Russians are doing. But one thing we're always told, they're up to no good. The anti-vaccine movement is very powerful. It's been around for decades; I don't see any particular role or interest on the part of the Russians in this. I mean, the Russians have actually been very pro-vaccine in general. And there's no indication at all from any of the Russian leaders that they're anti-vaccine. And again, Russia generally tends to be very pro-science and pro medicine.

    So the notion that the Russians are somehow leading the global anti-vaccine movement just seems laughable. Again, you'd have to ask, well, you know, "if you have evidence, what's your evidence?" But you know, we haven't seen it.

    Sputnik: With trials of the Oxford vaccine being held up, do you believe that Britain is perhaps trying to undermine the Russian vaccine effort?

    Szamuely: Well, I'm sure that's true. I mean, there is obviously competition to get these vaccines on the market, because there's a lot of money to be had. None of this is really in the public interest, because the public interest is to have a vaccine readily available for as many people as soon as possible and at the lowest price possible.

    That's obviously not in the interest of the pharmaceutical companies who intend to make a ton of money. So this whole competition is about who's going to get the vaccine to the market first, Russia or the West, the people who stand to make money are very interested in this, but as far as the public is concerned, they just want to get a vaccine as soon as possible.

    Sputnik: Do you believe that these comments made by the UK's military chief that Britain is perhaps concerned that they may lose the race to Russia in finding a vaccine? What would that mean for the political landscape?

    Szamuely: Well, I think that's probably true. I mean, it's always been the case that the West doesn't like losing the scientific-technological race to the Russians. You've probably heard about the effect the Sputnik launch had in 1957. It caught the West absolutely by surprise.

    And it was a traumatic event because the West was convinced that it had an unsurpassed lead in science and technology over the Soviet Union. And then there it was the, you know, the Soviets had launched this Sputnik into space. This is a long-standing tradition that the West doesn't like losing these races with the Russians.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, United Kingdom, Russia
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