Russian defense chief baselessly claims Kyiv ready to use ‘dirty bomb’ – POLITICO

On Sunday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held phone calls with his French, British and Turkish counterparts in which he baselessly claimed that Ukraine might be preparing to use a « dirty bomb », according to the Russian readings of conversations.

The conversations took place after Russian President Vladimir Putin recently raised the possibility of using nuclear weaponss in the war he launched against Ukraine. And after Shoigu had to face mounting political pressure following a series of disorderly retreats in Ukraine.

The calls came as Russia continues a mass evacuation of civilians from occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine and defense analysts believe the movement of people is setting the stage for Moscow to withdraw its troops from a significant part of the region. But among EU diplomats, there are fears that Moscow is only setting the stage for things to get worse.

During the call with French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, they discussed the situation in Ukraine, « which is rapidly deteriorating », according to the Russian version of the call. And Shoigu expressed « concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a ‘dirty bomb' », the Russian ministry said without giving further details.

The same reading content was provided during the call with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

The Russian reading of the call with British Defense Minister Ben Wallace speaks only of the risk of a « dirty bomb ». However, in none of the readings does Moscow provide evidence for its claims.

The UK said « Shoigu alleged that Ukraine was planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the UK, to escalate the conflict in Ukraine, » according to a British statement. « The Secretary of Defense has refuted these claims and warned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for further escalation, » he said.

No statement on the appeal was immediately made available by the Defense Ministries of France and Turkey.

On Friday, Shoigu spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for the first time since May and, according to a Pentagon reading, in the call « Austin stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication as part of the ongoing war against Ukraine ».

Shoigu spoke to Austin again on Sunday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. In this case, the Russian reading only indicates that « they discussed the situation in Ukraine ».

A dirty bomb is a bomb that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive materials. For Dara Massicotanalyst of the American research company Rand Corporation, « it looks like a Russian false flag ».

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