Ukraine and its allies have flatly rejected Russian claims that Kyiv is developing a “dirty bomb” to use against Moscow’s forces, and Ukraine’s foreign minister said he had invited experts to visit the Ukrainian facilities to see for themselves that Ukraine had nothing to hide.
Russia’s claims that Kyiv is considering deploying a so-called dirty bomb – a conventional warhead containing radioactive, biological or chemical material – have been the subject of a series of calls between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his counterparts from several NATO countries.
Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the latest developments on the ongoing Russian invasion, Kyiv counter-offensive, Western military aid, global reaction, Russian protests and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.
Great Britain, France and the United States have published a joint statement on October 23, dismissing the claim after Shoigu’s calls with their defense ministers during which the Russian minister presented no evidence of the claim.
“Our countries have made it clear that we all reject Russia’s patently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory,” the statement said.
But Russia has doubled down on its claims, which come after weeks of military defeats for Russia in southern and eastern Ukraine.
“According to the information we have, two organizations in Ukraine have specific instructions to create a so-called dirty bomb. This work is in its final stages,” Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov said Oct. 24.
Later in the day, Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov spoke by telephone with British Chief of the Defense Staff Tony Radakin, who dismissed Russia’s claims that which Ukraine was planning actions to aggravate the conflict.
“Military leaders both agreed on the importance of maintaining open channels of communication between the UK and Russia to manage the risk of miscalculation and facilitate de-escalation,” the MoD said in a statement. a statement.
Gerasimov also had a phone call with his US counterpart, General Mark Milley, to discuss the risks of using a dirty bomb in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin-controlled RIA Novosti news agency.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg weighed in on Moscow’s repeated allegation on Oct. 24, saying NATO also rejected it.
Stoltenberg said he spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and UK Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace “about Russia’s false claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”
“NATO allies reject this allegation. Russia should not use it as an excuse for escalation. We remain steadfast in our support for Ukraine,” he said. on Twitter.
Moscow’s claims that Ukraine could use a dirty bomb have raised fears that Russia could use such a device and blame Kyiv.
A senior US military official said the United States had seen no indication that Russia had decided to use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, including a dirty bomb.
The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, also said the Ukrainians were not building a dirty bomb.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price also said the US had seen no indication that Russia was preparing to use a nuclear weapon, but said there would be consequences for Russia if it used a dirty bomb or any other nuclear weapon.
“That would definitely be another example of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin’s brutality, if he used a so-called “dirty bomb”. There would be consequences for Russia whether it uses a “dirty bomb” or a nuclear bomb. We’ve been very clear about that,” Price told reporters.
He did not provide details of those consequences.
Ukraine had previously dismissed the accusation that Kyiv was building a dirty bomb as absurd, and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agreed to his request for send experts to Ukraine to refute Moscow’s claim.
Kuleba said he guest the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to “urgently dispatch experts to peaceful facilities in Ukraine which Russia deceptively claims is developing a dirty bomb.”
Kuleba said Ukraine had always been transparent and had “nothing to hide”.
The the IAEA said later on October 24 that it was preparing to send inspectors to two Ukrainian sites.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi confirmed in a statement that both sites are under IAEA safeguards and have been regularly visited by agency inspectors.
The IAEA “is aware of the statements made by the Russian Federation on [October 23] regarding alleged activities at two nuclear sites in Ukraine,” Grossi said, adding that both were already subject to his inspections and one was inspected a month ago and no undeclared nuclear activity or material. was found.
“The IAEA is preparing to visit the site in the coming days,” he added.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said to Kuleba in an Oct. 23 phone call that the world “would see through any attempt by Russia to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation [of the war].”
Blinken and Kuleba discussed the commitment of the United States and the international community to continue supporting Ukraine with “unprecedented security, economic and humanitarian assistance for as long as it takes, as we hold Russia responsible,” the State Department statement said.
They further noted ongoing efforts to manage the wider implications of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, he added.