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Russia defense chief makes unfounded claims of Kyiv ready to use ‘dirty bomb’

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday had telephone calls with his French, British and Turkish counterparts in which he made unfounded claims that Ukraine might be preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” according to Russian readouts of the conversations.

The conversations took place after Russian President Vladimir Putin recently raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons in the war he launched against Ukraine. And after Shoigu faced intensifying political pressure over 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 that the movement of people is setting the scene 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 scene for things to get worse.

During the call with French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu, they discussed the situation in Ukraine, “which is rapidly deteriorating,” according to the Russian readout of the call. And Shoigu conveyed “his concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a ‘dirty bomb’,” the Russian ministry said without giving any further detail.

The same content of the readout was provided on the call with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

The Russian readout of the call with U.K. Defense Minister Ben Wallace talks only about the risk of a “dirty bomb.” However, in none of the readouts does Moscow provide any evidence for its claims.

The U.K. said that “Shoigu alleged that Ukraine was planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the U.K., to escalate the conflict in Ukraine,” according to a U.K. statement. “The Defense Secretary refuted these claims and cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation,” it said.

No statement on the call was immediately made available by the defense ministries of France and Turkey.

On Friday, Shoigu spoke with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for the first time since May, and, according to a Pentagon readout, in the call “Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine.”

Shoigu spoke with Austin again on Sunday, according to the Russian defense ministry. In this case, the Russian readout says only that “they discussed situation in Ukraine.”

A dirty bomb is a bomb that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive materials. For Dara Massicot, an analyst at U.S. research company Rand Corporation, “this reads like Russian false flag groundwork.”



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