WASHINGTON — The White House on Sunday refuted Russia’s accusations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory and then blame Moscow.
In a statement, a spokesman for the National Security Council called Russia’s allegations of a possible false flag operation by Ukraine “false transparencies” and accused Moscow of pretending to lay the groundwork for its own escalation. of the war.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Ukraine may have used a dirty bomb during phone calls with several Western defense ministers, including US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Shoigu used the calls to tell “stories about the so-called ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb”.
Austin spoke with Shoigu for 30 minutes on Sunday, a US official said. After they hadn’t spoken for about five months, this was the second time they had spoken to each other in the past 48 hours. Austin called Shoigu on Friday. The brief read indicates that Austin stressed the importance of maintaining the lines of communication.
“Secretary Austin rejected any pretense of Russian escalation and reaffirmed the value of continued communication amid Russia’s illegal and unwarranted war on Ukraine,” the Department of Defense press secretary said. , Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. Ryder said Shoigu also requested a follow-up phone call with Austin.
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson also pushed back against Moscow’s claims.
“We reject reports of blatantly false allegations by Minister Shoigu that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory,” Watson said in a statement. “The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.”
Also on Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Blinken told Kuleba that the United States rejects Shoigu’s false claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory and that “the world would see through any attempt by Russia to use this allegation. as a pretext for escalation,” Price said.
In a joint statement released early Monday, Blinken was joined by his French and British counterparts in criticizing Russia’s claims.
“Earlier today, Defense Ministers from each of our countries met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at his request. Our countries have made it clear that we all reject Russia’s patently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. the statement said.
“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia.”
The French Ministry of the Armed Forces said that Choigou had told his counterpart, Sébastien Lecornu, that the situation in Ukraine was deteriorating rapidly and “tending to an uncontrollable escalation”.
Growing fears of a Russian escalation come as Kremlin forces struggle to contain Kyiv’s army counteroffensives to the east and south.
Moscow-based officials in the southern Kherson region evacuated civilians ahead of an expected Ukrainian push to retake the strategically important regional capital.