The US, Britain, and France unanimously dismissed Russian assertions that Ukraine was ready to deploy a dirty bomb on Sunday and cautioned Moscow not to use any excuse to escalate the conflict.
In a series of phone calls with Western military chiefs earlier Sunday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed a potential dirty bomb assault.
In a joint statement with the governments of Britain and France, the US State Department claimed that “we nations made clear that we firmly reject Russia’s plainly baseless assertions that Ukraine is prepared to deploy a dirty bomb on its own territory.”
The statement continue, “Any effort to exploit this claim as a pretext for escalation will seen through by the world.” “We further reject any justification for a Russian escalation.”
A “dirty bomb” is intend to pollute a large region with radioactive material, endangering bystanders. There is no nuclear explosion in it.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, vehemently refuted Moscow’s assertions, calling them a Russian plot for a similar strike in Moscow’s eight-month conflict against its pro-Western neighbor. But, he remarked, “The world should respond as strongly as possible.”
In a video message posted on social media, Mr. Zelensky said, “If Russia calls and claims that Ukraine is purportedly planning anything, it implies one thing: Russia has already planned all this.”
According to Mr. Zelensky, “Much the very Russian threat of nuclear weapons—and even more so against our nation, which has given up its nuclear arsenal… is a basis for both sanctions and for the further strengthening of support for Ukraine.”
After initially speaking with Mr. Austin on Friday, Mr. Shoigu had a series of telephone meetings with counterparts from Britain, France, and Turkey—all NATO members.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Mr. Shoigu expressed “concerns about potential provocations by Ukraine with the use of a ‘dirty bomb,'” in those conversations.
Mr. Shoigu and Mr. Austin discussed on Sunday what the Pentagon said was a follow-up call to their conversation on Friday that Russia had requested.
Following the speech, Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder stated that Secretary Austin “rejected any justification for Russian escalation and reiterated the necessity of ongoing dialogue throughout Russia’s illegitimate and unjustifiable conflict against Ukraine.”
It was just Mr. Shoigu and Mr. Austin’s second call since Moscow dispatched soldiers to Ukraine on February 24 when they talked on Friday.