Russia’s defense minister has accused Ukrainians of planning to use a so-called dirty bomb — a claim that was vehemently dismissed by U.S. officials on Sunday as Russia’s false flag operation.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s allegations were made during a phone call with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday, the second between the two senior officials in three days.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the two discussed the situation in Ukraine, but gave no further details. Shoigu called Austin, according to a senior U.S. government official.
Shoigu claimed plans to use a dirty bomb, a weapon that combines conventional explosives and uranium, another official familiar with the conversation said. The claim, amplified by the Kremlin in recent days, has been vehemently dismissed by the US, Ukraine and the UK as a Russian false flag operation.
Shoigu made similar comments about his French and British counterparts.
“We reject reports of Minister Shoigu’s apparently false allegations that Ukraine was preparing to use dirty bombs on its soil,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told CNN in a statement. The world will see through any attempt to use this allegation as an excuse for escalation.”
The U.S. is also closely monitoring any intelligence that Russia has concrete plans to blow up a dam near Kherson, from which Russia has ordered citizens to evacuate, the official said.
Late Sunday, the U.S. State Department issued a joint statement with the French and British foreign ministers, calling Shoigu’s allegations false and reiterating their unified support for Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.
Austin called Shoigu on Friday for the first time the two had spoken in months. Before Friday, the two had not spoken since May.