During much-anticipated public remarks following meetings with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken doubled down on the US charge that the Kremlin is spreading "disinformation" related to coronavirus vaccines.
He outlined both military and non-military threats from "autocratic states". As expected, much of his focus was on China and Russia, and this is where he called out interference whether in elections or alleged propaganda against vaccines:
"These include the use of disinformation campaigns and weaponized corruption to fuel distrust on our democracies, and cyber attacks that target our critical infrastructure and steal intellectual property - from China’s blatant economic coercion of Australia to Russia’s use of disinformation to erode confidence in elections and in safe effective vaccines," Blinken stated.
As a focus of the two-day meeting of NATO heads, the top US diplomat urged the military alliance should "hold Russia to account for its reckless and adversarial actions." However, he also distinguished that "Ultimately, I think what we can hope is to have a relationship with Russia that is at least predictable and stable."
"Even as we work with Russia to advance our interests and advance alliance interests, we will also work to hold Russia to account for its reckless and adversarial actions," he said.
The Kremlin fired back, calling the vaccine accusations of Blinken and other US officials of late "non-sensical" while pointing out there's actually a concerted effort to combat accessibility to the Sputnik V vaccine in places like Europe and South America, despite the emerging scientific consensus that's found it to be at least 91% effective while further preventing inoculated persons from becoming severely ill.
On Monday Dr. Anthony Fauci caught US officials by surprise and raised eyebrows in saying that he believed the current data on Sputnik V leads him to believe it's looking "quite effective".
Last week the Kremlin called out what it dubbed an "unprecedented" propaganda war against the Russia-produced vaccine. The words were issued by spokesman Dmitry Peskov in response to widespread allegations that the Untied States is actively trying to dissuade its allies from purchasing it.
Earlier in the ongoing NATO meeting at its headquarters in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for the reestablishment of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) to facilitate better dialogue with Russia. Created in 2002, it stopped meeting in summer of 2019.