Washington: White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) that President Joe Biden’s administration was monitoring efforts tied to Russia’s intelligence services aimed at undermining the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines.
“We are aware of it, we are monitoring it and we are taking steps to address,” Psaki said at a news briefing.
The United States has identified three online publications directed by Russia’s intelligence services that it says are seeking to undermine COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, a State Department spokeswoman said on Sunday.
The outlets “spread many types of disinformation, including about both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as international organisations, military conflicts, protests, and any divisive issue that they can exploit,” Psaki said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the identification of the alleged campaign on Sunday. A Kremlin spokesman denied the US claim that Russia was spreading false information about vaccines to the Journal.
The State Department’s Global Engagement Centre, set up to counter propaganda and disinformation campaigns, identified the three outlets, the spokeswoman said.
News Front is controlled by Russia’s federal security service, the centre found. New Eastern Outlook and Oriental Review are directed and controlled by the Russian foreign intelligence service.
A fourth outlet, Rebel Inside, controlled by the Russian army, was also named by the center but is largely dormant, the spokeswoman said.
“We will fight, with every tool we have, disinformation. We are certainly familiar with the approach and tactics of Russian disinformation efforts,” Psaki said, adding that President Joe Biden’s administration will reiterate “at every opportunity” that the vaccines are safe.