US dismisses ‘transparently false’ Russian claims of Ukraine plan to use ‘dirty bomb’

Antony Blinken joins Ukraine and UK in dismissing Moscow’s claim, saying the world will ‘see through’ any attempt to escalate conflict

The US has rejected as “transparently false” Russia’s evidence-free claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a “dirty bomb” on its own territory as part of an escalation of Vladimir Putin’s war.

Secretary of state Antony Blinken told his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, on Sunday “the world would see through any attempt by Russia to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation”, and vowed to continue supporting Kyiv for as long as necessary.

Earlier on Sunday, Kuleba denounced Moscow’s claims as “absurd” and “dangerous”, adding: “Russians often accuse others of what they plan themselves”.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy reacted swiftly to Moscow’s claims, calling for a united international response. “If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Zelenskiy said in a video address on social media. “I believe that now the world should react as harshly as possible.”

Zelenskiy said everyone “understands who is the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war. It was Russia who blackmailed with the radiation disaster at the Zaporizhzhia NPP [nuclear power plant].”


On Sunday, Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, spoke to his British, French and Turkish counterparts and claimed in all three meetings that Ukraine may use a “dirty bomb”, a conventional weapon containing radioactive material. Shoigu also spoke to Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, but Moscow did not mention the dirty bomb allegations in its statement summarising that call.

The Russian minister cited no evidence for this claim as he warned of “possible provocations” on the part of Kyiv.

There is no evidence that Ukraine, which gave up its nuclear weapons in the 1990s, has any radioactive material in its military arsenal.

The UK Ministry of Defence said in a statement: “Shoigu alleged that Ukraine was planning actions facilitated by western countries, including the UK, to escalate the conflict in Ukraine. The defence secretary refuted these claims and cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation.”

The Institute for the Study of War said a “false flag” operation by Russia was unlikely, dismissing Shoigu’s calls as a sabre-rattling move designed to intimidate Ukraine’s western allies and split the Nato alliance.

Russia faces continued military setbacks, including the likely loss of western Kherson by the end of the year, it said.

Staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
US pledges extra $713m for Ukraine war effort and to weaken Russia
Moscow complains about US military aid as Washington promises more support, including advanced weapons

Dan Sabbagh and Helen Livingstone

25, Apr, 2022 @11:08 AM

Article image
Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 60 of the Russian invasion
Volodymyr Zelenskiy to meet US secretary of state Antony Blinken in Kyiv on Sunday as Russia continues attacks on southern and eastern Ukraine

Vivian Ho, Rebecca Ratcliffe and agencies

24, Apr, 2022 @12:56 AM

Article image
Russia-Ukraine war: Fate of Europe and global security being decided in Ukraine, Zelenskiy says– live
Russian foreign minister says western weapons are a ‘legitimate target’; about 15,000 Russian troops have been killed since start of invasion, UK defence secretary says

Helen Livingstone (now); Dani Anguiano, Gloria Oladipo, Harry Taylor, Léonie Chao-Fong, Martin Belam (earlier)

26, Apr, 2022 @5:20 AM

Article image
Antony Blinken arrives in Ukraine for surprise visit
US secretary of state expected to announce initial package of military aid for Kyiv of up to $200m

Shaun Walker in Kyiv

06, Sep, 2023 @8:54 AM

Article image
Joe Biden thinks Russia will attack Ukraine – but will face a ‘stiff price’
US president alarms government in Kyiv by saying Nato was divided on how to respond to ‘minor incursion’

Luke Harding in Kyiv, Andrew Roth in Moscow and Julian Borger in Washington

20, Jan, 2022 @12:11 AM

Article image
Russia-Ukraine war: Russia nearly shot down British spy plane near Ukraine, alleged leaked US document claims – as it happened
Near miss occurred off coast of Crimea in September 2022, according to apparent leak of Pentagon documents

Léonie Chao-Fong (now); Tobi Thomas, Jennifer Rankin and Helen Livingstone (earlier)

10, Apr, 2023 @6:24 PM

Article image
Blinken due to meet Zelenskiy in first wartime visit by top US officials to Ukraine
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin will join secretary of state in Sunday’s meeting as Russia continues attacks in south and east Ukraine

Luke Harding in Kyiv and Lorenzo Tondo, with agencies

24, Apr, 2022 @5:06 AM

Article image
Russia-Ukraine war live: ‘endemic corruption and poor logistics’ harming Russian military, says UK – as it happened
UK Ministry of Defence says situation so bad reservists are having to buy their own body armour

Maya Yang (now); Nadeem Badshah, Tobi Thomas (earlier)

15, Oct, 2022 @6:12 PM

Article image
Russia-Ukraine war live: UK defence secretary dismisses Russia’s claims Ukraine plans to escalate conflict – as it happened
Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, makes calls with UK, US, French and Turkish counterparts on Sunday

Maya Yang (now); Christy Cooney and Adam Fulton (earlier)

23, Oct, 2022 @8:31 PM

Article image
Zelenskiy says Ukraine willing to discuss neutrality at Russia talks
Talks set to start in Turkey as Ukraine president seeks peace ‘without delay’ and Biden denies seeking regime change in Russia

Samantha Lock, and Daniel Boffey in Lviv

28, Mar, 2022 @7:27 AM