Ukraine, allies reject Russian defense chief’s claim of provocation of ‘dirty bomb’ from Ukraine

Ukraine and several of its allies, including the United States, have dismissed a request by Russia’s defense minister who said so Ukraine prepared to detonate a “dirty bomb” on its own territory. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the claims in a series of calls with American, British, French and Turkish defense officials.

“We reject reports of Minister Shoygu’s patently false claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation,” said US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.

A “dirty bomb” uses conventional explosives to spew radiological materials into the air and contaminate the surrounding area. The size of the contaminated area would depend on the size of the explosion.

Russian authorities have repeatedly leveled allegations that Ukraine could detonate a dirty bomb in a false flag attack, blaming Moscow. The Ukrainian authorities, in turn, have accused the Kremlin of hatching such a plan.

War Torn Bucha comes back to life
A man carries boxes from a destroyed shopping center that remains untouched as the war-torn city comes back to life after many residents returned and shops reopened October 21, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. Although fewer buildings were damaged in the fighting in the Kiev suburb of Bucha, the death toll is dramatically higher.

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British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace firmly rejected Shoigu’s claim and warned Moscow not to use it as a pretext for escalation.

The UK Ministry of Defense noted that Shoigu, in an interview with Wallace, “claimed that Ukraine is planning measures backed by Western countries, including Britain, to escalate the conflict in Ukraine”.

“The Secretary of Defense has denied these allegations and has warned against using such allegations as a pretext for a major escalation,” the ministry said.

In a televised address on Sunday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated that Moscow itself was preparing the conditions for the stationing of a radioactive device on Ukrainian soil.

“When Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means only one thing: Russia has already prepared everything,” Zelenskyy said.

The mention of the dirty bomb threat in Shoigu’s calls seemed to indicate that the threat of such an attack had reached unprecedented levels.

The French Defense Ministry said Shoigu had told his counterpart Sebastien Lecornu that the situation in Ukraine was deteriorating rapidly and “tends to escalate uncontrollably”.

“It seems that there is a common sense that tensions have reached a level that could pose a real threat to everyone,” Fyodor Lukyanov, the Kremlin-affiliated head of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council, said in Moscow resident group of top foreign policy experts.

People clean up the area after a rocket attack in Mykolayiv on October 23, 2022 amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images

The rising tensions come as Russian authorities report the construction of defensive positions in the occupied territories of Ukraine and Russia’s border regions, reflecting fears that Ukrainian forces could attack along new stretches of the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) frontline of the war entering its ninth month on Monday.

Ukraine has set its priorities in recent weeks Counter-offensive mainly on the Kherson region. Their relentless artillery strikes cut through the main crossings across the Dnieper bisecting the southern region, leaving Russian troops on the west bank short of supplies and vulnerable to encirclement.

Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the Russian-installed Kherson regional administration, said in a radio interview on Sunday that Russia’s defense lines “have been strengthened and the situation has remained stable” as local officials gave strong encouragement to all residents of the region’s capital and its environs Territories Saturday to evacuate by ferry to the east bank of the river.

The region is one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and placed under Russian martial law on Thursday. The city of Kherson has been in Russian hands since the war’s early days, but Ukrainian forces have made progress in recapturing it.

About 20,000 residents of Kherson have moved to locations on the east bank of the Dnieper, the Kremlin-backed regional administration reported. Ukraine’s military said Sunday that the Russian military was also withdrawing its officers from West Bank areas, leaving behind newly mobilized, inexperienced forces.

The Ukrainian claim could not be independently verified.

As Ukraine pushes south after liberating the Kharkiv region in the north last month, authorities in western Russia’s provinces bordering northeastern Ukraine appeared nervous.

The governor of Russia’s Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said on Sunday that two defense lines had been built and a third would be ready by November 5.

Defense lines were also built in the Belgorod region, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.

More defenses are being built in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, said Yevgeny Prigozhin, a multimillionaire Russian businessman who owns the Wagner Group, a mercenary military company that played a prominent role in the war.

Prigozhin said his company is building a “Wagner Line” in the Luhansk region, another Ukrainian province that Putin illegally annexed last month. Prigozhin released images last week showing a section of newly constructed defenses and trench systems southeast of the city of Kreminna.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday: “The project suggests that Russia is making significant efforts to thoroughly prepare defenses behind the current front line, which is likely to deter rapid Ukrainian counter-offensives.”

Russian forces captured Luhansk a few months ago. Pro-Moscow separatists declared independent republics in the region and neighboring Donetsk eight years ago, and Putin made it his goal to control both provinces at the start of the war.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said Sunday that Russia’s latest strategy to attack power plants appeared aimed at weakening Ukrainians’ will to fight and forcing the government in Kyiv to allocate more resources to protecting civilians and provide the energy infrastructure.

The efforts are unlikely to harm Ukrainian morale but will have a significant economic impact.

President Zelenskyy said Sunday that utility workers were on track to restore power, which was disrupted by large-scale Russian missile attacks on Saturday, but acknowledged it would take longer to provide heating.

Nine regions in Ukraine, from Odessa in the southwest to Kharkiv in the northeast, saw further attacks on energy and other critical infrastructure over the past day, the Ukrainian Army General Staff said. It reported a total of 25 Russian airstrikes and more than 100 rocket and artillery attacks around Ukraine.

In response, Zelenskyy appealed to mayors and other local leaders to ensure that Ukrainians heed official calls to save energy. “Now is definitely not the time for colorful shop windows and signs,” he said.


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