Putin is playing on fear in the West
Previous Russian claims that Ukraine is using biological weapons, for example, have raised concerns in the West that Moscow could be operating under a false identity and then blame Kiev. After Shoigu’s call, concerns about Russia’s use of nuclear weapons are growing in the West. The Kremlin hopes to spread the same fear in the West to weaken Western support for Ukraine. Shoigu’s calls may have this strategic background.
After the phone call, London said Wallace denied the allegations and warned that such allegations should not be used as an excuse to escalate. The defense minister also emphasized the desire for de-escalation.
Conventional explosive devices that also release radioactive material are called “dirty bombs”. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons. “Russian lies about alleged plans to use ‘dirty bombs’ in Ukraine are as absurd as they are dangerous,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded on Twitter. Ukraine adheres to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “Russians often blame others for their own plans,” Kuleba warned in Kyiv.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the situation in Ukraine is becoming more complicated towards “uncontrolled escalation”. Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti claims that Kyiv has virtually completed the completion of a small tactical nuclear bomb. Ukraine is ready to ignite it on its own soil “to launch a strong anti-Russian campaign aimed at destroying confidence in Moscow”.
Unusually, Shoigu on Sunday spoke to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for the second time in two days. It was about the situation in Ukraine, it said. A reference to the nuclear issue was absent from Moscow’s Defense Ministry statement.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has not gone according to Moscow’s plans for months. The advance was initially unsuccessful, and already the Russian units had gained even partially defensively. Against this backdrop, speculation is growing about possible Russian use of strategic nuclear weapons against neighboring countries. Moscow denies any such intention.