The United States, the UK, and France have rejected Russia’s allegation that Ukraine is planning to use a so-called “dirty bomb” in the ongoing conflict, and have accused the Kremlin of trying to use the allegation as a pretext for further escalation.
As Ukrainian forces advance into Russian-occupied Kherson Province, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu phoned Western counterparts on Oct. 23 to tell them Moscow suspected Kyiv of planning to use a “dirty bomb.”
In a joint statement released on Oct. 24, the foreign ministers of France, the UK, and the United States said the countries reject Russia’s “transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”
The foreign ministers added: “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.”
They reiterated their countries’ “steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” and vowed to “continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend its territory for as long as it takes.”
Shoigu made the allegation in a series of telephone calls with counterparts from the UK, the United States, France, and Turkey.
According to the Russian defense ministry, Shoigu voiced concerns about “possible Ukrainian provocations involving a ‘dirty bomb,’” or an explosive device which spreads radioactive contamination.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Shoigu that he “rejected any pretext for Russian escalation” in Ukraine, the Pentagon said.
Likewise, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace “strongly rejected” Russia’s claims and warned Moscow not to try to use it as a “pretext” for its own efforts to step up the conflict.
The Ukrainian government has accused the Kremlin of planning a false flag attack.
In an overnight address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russian accusation was a sign Moscow was planning such an attack itself and would blame Ukraine.
“If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Zelenskyy said.
“So when today the Russian minister of defense organizes a phone carousel and calls foreign ministers with stories about the so-called ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb, everyone understands everything well, understands who is the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war.”
PA Media and Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times