Russia has engaged in an unusual flurry of contacts with the three Western nuclear powers to raise baseless allegations of a dirty bomb plot in Ukraine, amid fears of further escalation.
In the past 48 hours, by Vladimir Putin Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke with his respective counterparts in the United States, United Kingdom and France, while the Russian President’s military chief, General Valery Gerasimov, spoke separately with its American and British counterparts.
Russia used the conversations he initiated to claim that Ukraine prepares to deploy a “dirty bomb” on its own territory – a claim firmly rejected by the allies. A dirty bomb is an explosive device containing radioactive material.
The West has long suspected Moscow of being ready to carry out a major false flag operation – launching an attack but blaming the Ukrainians, then using the carnage as a pretext for further escalation by Russia.
The sudden desire for dialogue could be part of the process of conjuring up the idea of a dirty bomb before anything that could be theatricalized.
At the same time, it could possibly signal that Moscow is trying to attempt some form of reconnection, or even negotiation, as its armed forces suffer repeated battlefield defeats at the hands of the Ukrainian military, armed of Western weapons, and with the approaching winter.
Jens Stoltenberg, the head of the NATO alliance, said on Monday he had spoken to Lloyd Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, and Ben Wallace of the United Kingdom about “Russia’s false claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb” .
“NATO allies reject this allegation,” Stoltenberg said in a statement on Twitter. “Russia must not use this as a pretext for escalation. We must remain firm in our support for Ukraine.”
Washington, London and Paris also issued a rare joint statement on contact with Russia, reiterating their “unwavering support” for Ukraine and pointing to Sunday’s talks between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Mr. Austin, Mr. Wallace and Sebastien Lecornu from France.
What is a dirty bomb?
“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.
“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.”
On Monday – a day after talks with defense ministers – Russian General Gerasimov spoke with General Mark Milley, the United States’ top military officer, and had a separate chat with Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, British Chief of the Defense Staff.
The UK MoD said Admiral Radakin ‘rejected Russia’s claims that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict, and he reaffirmed the UK’s enduring support for Ukraine’ .
He added: “The 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 to facilitate de-escalation.”