Europe

Ukraine war: Ukrainian ‘dirty bomb’, Kherson local militias, downed Iranian drones

1. Russia repeats Ukrainian ‘dirty bomb’ accusation

Moscow repeated claims on Monday that Ukraine is making a “dirty bomb”, an allegation rebuffed by international experts.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu first made the accusation on Sunday during a call with his US, UK, French and Turkish counterparts. He said Moscow was “concerned” about “possible provocations” by Ukraine involving a “dirty bomb”.

Kyiv has fiercely condemned these allegations, inviting international inspectors to come and view its nuclear facilities.

A “dirty bomb” is made by packing conventional explosives with radioactive material, which then spreads in the air once the device goes off.

“According to the information we have, two Ukrainian organisations have specific instructions for making the so-called ‘dirty bomb,” said Russian General Igor Kirillov on Monday, claiming their work had entered the “final phase”.

“The purpose of this provocation is to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine and thus to launch a powerful anti-Russian campaign in the world,” he said.

Ukrainian officials immediately denied these allegations, with the head of Ukraine’s diplomatic service Dmytro Kouleba calling them “absurd” and “dangerous” remarks.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the world to “react as harshly as possible” to Russia’s accusations.

On Monday, Kouleba said he spoke to the International Atomic Energy Agency and “officially invited” experts from the UN body to visit “peaceful installations in Ukraine” that Russia “misleadingly claims” are developing a “dirty bomb”.

Grossi “has accepted,” said Kouleba. “Unlike Russia, Ukraine has always been and remains transparent. We have nothing to hide.”

Paris, London, and Washington have lambasted Moscow’s “false” statements.

2. Ukraine claims success in downing drones

Ukrainian authorities on Monday tried to dampen public fears about Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones, claiming it was getting better at shooting down the small aircraft.

Ukraine’s forces have shot down more than two-thirds of the approximately 330 Shahid drones that Russia has used, said the head of the Ukrainian intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, on Monday.

Budanov said Russia’s military had ordered about 1,700 units of several different types of drones, besides a second batch of about 300 Shahids, which translates as ‘martyr’ in Persian.

“Terror with the use of ‘Shahids’ can actually last for a long time,” he added. “Air defence is basically coping, 70% are shot down.”

Both Russia and Iran deny that any Iranian-made drones have been used in the war.

The UK Ministry of Defence, in an intelligence update posted on Twitter, said Russia was ‘likely’ to use a high number of Shahid drones to penetrate “increasingly effective Ukrainian air defences” in part to substitute for Russian-made long-range precision weapons “which are becoming increasingly scarce.”

Iran’s alleged military support of Russia led Ukraine’s top football club to call on FIFA to remove Iran from the World Cup.

3. Kremlin states Paris and Berlin have ‘no desire’ to participate in peace talks

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz show “no desire” to enter peace talks over the Ukraine war, the Kremlin claimed on Monday.

“As for Macron and Scholz, lately they have shown no desire to listen to the position of the Russian side and to participate in any efforts related to mediation,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, while praising the “position of Ankara”.

Turkey “shows its willingness to continue the mediation efforts” which were “highly appreciated” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added.

A member of NATO, Turkey is very dependent on Russian gas and oil. It has tried to maintain a good relationship with both Ukraine and Russia since the start of the invasion.

Ankara opted out of joining international sanctions against Moscow, though it has sold deadly drones to Ukraine.

Turkey played a key role in negotiating a prisoner exchange in September between Russia and Ukraine, alongside an agreement letting blocked grain exports from the Black Sea.

On two occasions, it also brought together Russian and Ukrainian representatives on its soil for negotiations in March. These failed, nevertheless, with both sides blaming one another.

4. Russian-installed Kherson authorities create local militia

Moscow-backed authorities in Ukraine’s Kherson region said on Monday they were organising some local men into militias.

In a Telegram post, occupation officials said men could join territorial defence units if they chose to remain in the southern city of their own free will.

However, men in other occupied Ukrainian regions such as Donetsk have previously been compelled to join up and fight with the armies of Russia’s proxies in the war with Ukraine.

Putin last week declared martial law in the occupied regions, granting their Russian-installed administrations new powers to step up mobilisation.

Compelling civilians to serve in the armed forces of an occupying power is defined as a breach of the Geneva Convention on the conduct of war.

Russian authorities have ordered civilians to “evacuate” from Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions Russia said it had annexed last month even as Kyiv’s forces have made significant military gains.

Russia and its proxies in Kherson have stepped up the urgency of their warnings to leave in the face of Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

“It’s vital to save your lives,” Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov said in a video message on Sunday.

Authorities said at the weekend that around 25,000 people had been evacuated since Tuesday, mainly by boat across the Dnipro River.

Critics have questioned the extent to which these are genuine evacuations, with some pointing out that Ukrainian civilians often have no choice but to flee to Russian-controlled territory.

5. Russian TV presenter sacked for saying Ukrainian children should be ‘burned’

A Russian TV presenter was dismissed on Monday, after calling for Ukrainian children to be burnt. 

Anton Krassovski, who presents the Russia Today television channel in Russia, said children who considered Russia an occupier during the days of the USSR should be thrown “into a river with a strong current”, such as the Tysyna, or burnt “in a hut”.

The 47-year-old was responding to an anecdote from a guest who told him about his trip to Ukraine during the Soviet era, where he witnessed the feelings of young Ukrainians “suffering from the Russian occupation”.

The boss of RT in Russia, Margarita Simonian, quickly condemned these comments overnight from Sunday to Monday, deeming them “savage” and “disgusting”.

“For now, I’m stopping our collaboration,” she said in a statement on Telegram.

On Monday morning, Simonian said she wanted to “warn those who call for atrocities”. “There is no need to do that,” she added.

Krassovski apologised for his comments on social media, saying he was “really embarrassed”. 

He continued: “I apologise to all those who were stunned by this” and who found his words “wild, unthinkable”.

The Russian Investigative Committee, in charge of the main investigations in the country, said Monday that it had demanded “a report” on this incident, following a report from a viewer.

The head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kouleba, said on Twitter that RT should be banned across the world, describing Krassovski’s comments as “aggressive incitement to genocide (…), which has nothing to do with freedom of expression”. 

This is not the first time that Krassovski has verbally attacked Ukrainians since the start of the Russian offensive in February. 

At the end of March, he said in a video on Youtube that he wanted to “destroy their Constitution”, also ensuring that Ukraine “should not exist”.


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