In the latest accusation of its kind, Moscow said Ukraine was preparing to detonate a “dirty bomb” on Russian army soldiers occupying large parts of the country.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Sunday that Ukraine was preparing for a “provocation” with a radioactive device, a claim fiercely rejected by US, British and Ukrainian officials amid rising tensions as Moscow grapples to stop Ukraine’s advance in the south.
What is a “dirty bomb”?
A “dirty” bomb is a device used to disperse radioactive nuclear waste, and although it does not have the destructive effect of a nuclear explosion, it can expose large areas to radioactive contamination.
“A dirty bomb is a bomb that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive materials,” Dara Massicott, an analyst at the Rand Corporation, told Politico.
According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Board, most RDDs, or a ‘radioactive material dispersal device’, or a so-called dirty bomb, will not create enough radiation to kill people or cause serious illness.
He adds that the same conventional explosives would be more harmful to people than radioactive materials. However, an RDD explosion can create fear and panic, contaminate property and require expensive cleanup.
A dirty bomb is not a nuclear bomb.
A nuclear bomb produces an explosion millions of times more powerful than a dirty bomb, according to the council. A cloud of radiation from a nuclear bomb can spread thousands of square miles, while a dirty bomb’s radiation can be scattered a few blocks or miles from the explosion.
A dirty bomb is not a “weapon of mass destruction” but a “weapon of mass disorder,” says the council, where pollution and fear are the main targets.
Dirty bomb effect
The extent of contamination depends on a number of factors, including the size of the explosive, the amount and type of radioactive material used, the method of propagation and weather conditions, according to the council.
Those closest to the blast will be more likely to be injured by the blast. As radioactive materials spread, they become less concentrated and less harmful.
The immediate detection of the type of radioactive material used greatly assists local authorities in advising the community on preventive measures, such as providing shelter or leaving the area quickly.
Radiation can be easily detected using equipment that many first responders already carry.
Subsequent decontamination of the affected area may require considerable time and expense.
The Russian defense minister made the allegations in phone calls with his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.
Russian authorities have repeatedly claimed that Ukraine could detonate a dirty bomb in a “false flag” attack and blame Moscow, and in turn, Ukrainian authorities have accused the Kremlin of masterminding such a plan.
“Russian lies about Ukraine allegedly planning to use a dirty bomb are as ridiculous as they are dangerous,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media. have any “dirty bombs. “And we don’t plan to get any of them. Second, Russians often accuse other people of things they themselves plan.”
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace strongly rejected Shoigu’s claim and warned Moscow against using it as a pretext for escalation.
The United States also rejected Shoigu’s “transparently false allegations,” White House National Security Council spokesman Adrian Watson said in a statement.
She added: “The world will see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.”
In a televised address on Sunday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated that Moscow was paving the way for the deployment of a radioactive device on Ukrainian soil.
“If Russia calls and says Ukraine is preparing something, it only means one thing: Russia has already prepared everything,” Zelensky said.
The mention of the threat of a dirty bomb in Shoigu’s calls seemed to indicate that the threat of such an attack had risen to an unprecedented level.
The French Armed Forces Ministry said Shoigu told his counterpart, Sebastien Licornu, that the situation in Ukraine was rapidly deteriorating and “on the way to an uncontrollable escalation”.
The rising tensions come as Russian authorities reported building defensive positions in occupied areas of Ukraine and Russia’s border regions, reflecting fears that Ukrainian forces could attack along new parts of the war’s 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line. his ninth month Monday.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has focused its counterattack mostly on the Kherson region. His relentless artillery attacks cut off the main crossings over the Dnieper River, which divides the southern region, leaving Russian forces on the West Bank short of supplies and vulnerable to encirclement.
Kirill Strimosov, deputy head of the Russian-installed regional administration in Kherson, said in a radio interview on Sunday that Russian defense lines had “strengthened and the situation remained stable” since local officials strongly urged all residents of the regional capital and neighboring regions to leave on Saturday. to evacuate by ferry to the east bank of the river. .