Russia warns France about Ukrainian ‘dirty bomb’ risk
The Russian defense minister has shared concerns with his French counterpart about a possible Ukrainian provocation involving the use of a “dirty bomb”.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Sergey Shoigu and Sebastien Lecornu spoke by phone on Sunday, discussing “the situation in Ukraine, which is consistently veering towards further uncontrolled escalation.”
Shoigu, in an apparent reference to previous media reports, voiced concerns about a “possible Ukrainian provocation” which could involve the use of a “dirty bomb.”
Earlier on Sunday, RIA Novosti cited “sources in different countries including Ukraine” as saying that Kiev is preparing to detonate “a dirty bomb or a low-yield nuclear weapon” on its own territory. According to the Russian news agency, the goal would be to accuse Moscow of using weapons of mass destruction in a ploy to “launch a powerful anti-Russia campaign”.
The report claimed that two Ukrainian institutions have already been tasked with manufacturing a “dirty bomb,” with the work now at “the final stages.” Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's administration is reportedly engaged in behind-the-scenes talks with British officials in a bid to secure the transfer of nuclear arms components to Kiev.
A so-called dirty bomb uses a conventional explosive combined with radioactive material. While it could not rival a nuclear warhead in terms of power, such a device could disperse a radiation cloud within several kilometers of the explosion.
The talks between Shoigu and Lecornu come days after the Russian defense minister had a rare telephone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. While the details of the talks are scarce, the sides are said to have discussed “issues of international security, including the situation in Ukraine.”
France has joined Western sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict and has supported Kiev with various weaponry. However, President Emmanuel Macron has on numerous occasions urged Moscow and Kiev to return to peace negotiations, reiterating that the conflict can be settled only diplomatically.