Ukraine rejected Russian allegations that Ukrainian forces might detonate a radioactive device, and accused Russia of planning to carry out such an act and blame it on Ukraine.
“Russian lies about Ukraine allegedly planning to us a ‘dirty bomb’ are as absurd as they are dangerous,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his nightly address Sunday that Russia was the only one in the region capable of using nuclear weapons.
“If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Zelenskyy said. “I believe that now the world should react in the toughest possible way.”
Russia’s defense ministry said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu voiced concern Sunday to his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey about “possible Ukrainian provocations involving a ‘dirty bomb.’”
Dangers of a “dirty bomb”
A “dirty bomb” is a device that uses conventional explosives to scatter radioactive material. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says most dirty bombs “would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness,” but could create panic and contaminate property. Nuclear bombs, by comparison, have explosions that are millions of times more powerful, according to the NRC.
The foreign ministers of the United States, Britain and France reiterated their support for Ukraine in a statement late Sunday, and said their defense ministers made clear to Shoigu their rejection of “Russia’s transparently false allegations.”
“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia,” the U.S., British and French ministers said.
For U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, his phone call Sunday with Shoigu was the second between the two ministers in the span of three days. The Pentagon said Austin rejected any pretext for Russian escalation and reaffirmed the value of continued communication amid “Russia’s unlawful and unjustified war against Ukraine.”
Also Sunday, a Russian missile attack smashed into a suburb of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine.
While two apartment blocks were destroyed, no one was killed because most residents had already moved away after a similar attack in the vicinity six months ago, Reuters reported.
The explosions in the Karabelnyi district of Mykolaiv, a ship-building center at the confluence of the Southern Buh and Dnipro rivers, continued a weeks-long Russian aerial offensive that has targeted civilian infrastructure.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.