Russia must not let the conflict in Ukraine escalate with false claims that Kiev plans to unleash a so-called “dirty bomb,” NATO’s head warned Monday.
Jens Stoltenberg weighed in on Moscow’s repeated accusations that Ukraine could deploy such a weapon, raising fears that Russia could use one and blame Kiev.
The head of the US-led military alliance said he had spoken with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace “about Russia’s false claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own.” territory.”
“NATO allies reject this claim. Russia should not use it as a pretext for escalation. We remain steadfast in our support for Ukraine,” he wrote on Twitter.
Moscow has claimed that Ukraine is on the brink of developing a dirty bomb, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has insisted the threat is real.
“This is not empty information… there are serious suspicions that such things are being planned,” Lavrov said, adding: “We have a strong interest in avoiding such a terrible provocation.”
But State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington is concerned that Russia’s claims may be a cover.
“We’ve seen a pattern in this conflict and the build-up to this war, where the Russians were dealing with mirror images – the Russians have accused the Ukrainians, the Russians have accused other countries of what they themselves were up to. That’s our concern” Price said.
The head of the Russian army, Valery Gerasimov, reiterated Moscow’s claims on Monday in a telephone conversation with his US counterpart, the defense ministry said.
The call was the latest in a series of talks between Russian defense officials and colleagues from NATO countries in which Moscow said, without providing evidence, that Kiev planned to deploy a dirty bomb.
In a statement on Monday, Russian Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov said: “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.” .
Basically, a dirty bomb is a conventional weapon laced with radioactive, biological, or chemical materials that are dispersed in an explosion.
Moscow’s claims follow weeks of military defeats for Russia in southern and eastern Ukraine, with observers and Kiev saying the Kremlin is growing desperate.
In Kiev’s latest territorial gains announcement, the Ukrainian army claims to have expelled Russian troops from several villages in the northeast of the country.
– Inspection mission –
“Thanks to successful actions, our forces have driven the enemy from the settlements of Karmazynivka, Myasozharivka and Nevske in the Lugansk region and Novosadove in the Donetsk region,” the Ukrainian army said in a statement.
Both Kiev and its allies have vehemently rejected the dirty bomb claims, which follow Moscow’s thinly veiled threats of a possible nuclear escalation.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the head of the United Nations Nuclear Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, has granted his request to “send experts as a matter of urgency to peaceful facilities in Ukraine, which Russia falsely claims is a dirty develop a bomb”.
The IAEA confirmed in a statement that it would visit two Ukrainian facilities “in the coming days”.
Britain, the United States and France also issued a joint statement rejecting the Russian claims.
“Our countries have made it clear that we all reject Russia’s transparent false accusations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory,” the statement said.
With the help of heavy weapons supplied by the West, Ukraine has managed to reclaim parts of its territory from Russia to the east and south, while the power grid has been ravaged for the winter.
While momentum has spilled over to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has faced cracks in domestic support for his campaign as a cluttered force and battlefield losses challenged the prospect of a swift conclusion.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, said on Monday that France and Germany showed “no desire” to participate in mediation over the conflict and praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s offer to host talks.
Turkey helped close the deal that would allow grain exports to resume under UN auspices in July, and played a role in a September prisoner exchange, one of the largest exchanges.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)