What Is Russia's 'Dirty Bomb' Threat That led to Indian Advisory in Ukraine?

Russia's defence minister called up his Indian and Chinese counterparts to convey concerns about the "dirty bomb."

3 min read

The alleged threat of the use of a particular type of bomb has triggered new tensions in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told the British Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace that he was "concerned about possible provocations by Kyiv involving the use of a dirty bomb."

Shoigu even called up the defence ministers of India and China on Wednesday, 26 October, to convey Russian claims about the "dirty bomb." India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh "reiterated India's position on the need to pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy for an early resolution of the conflict," according to the Indian Defence Ministry.

Additionally, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday surveyed drills that were being carried out by Russia's nuclear-capable forces.

"Under the leadership of... Vladimir Putin, a training session was held with ground, sea and air strategic deterrence forces, during which practical launches of ballistic and cruise missiles took place," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Russian concerns led to the issue of a fresh advisory by the Indian embassy in Ukraine, asking its citizens to leave the country immediately by any available means.

So, what is a dirty bomb? What does Ukraine have to say about Russia's claims? What does the Indian Embassy's advisory say?


What is a Dirty Bomb?

A dirty bomb is a bomb that contains radioactive material, such as uranium, and when it explodes, that radioactive material disperses across the air.

These bombs are cheap and can be made quickly. The radioactive materials, according to the BBC, can be obtained from hospitals, nuclear power stations, or even research laboratories.

The radioactive fallout from the bomb can cause serious illnesses, such as cancer.

Russia's Claim and Ukraine's Response

Ukraine has dismissed Russia's claim about the dirty bomb threat, calling it an attempt to distract attention from Moscow's plans to detonate a dirty bomb of their own.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia was "the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war."

Energoatom, which is the country's state enterprise that operates four nuclear power plants, said that Russian troops have done secret construction work at the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

It also "assumed" the Russian troops "are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored at" the plant, according to the Associated Press.

Russia's claim about dirty bombs was compounded by what Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said about the West rejecting Moscow's warning. He said that it is "unacceptable in view of the seriousness of the danger that we have talked about."

Talking to reporters, Peskov added: "We again emphasize the grave danger posed by the plans hatched by the Ukrainians."

On the other hand, talking about Russian tactics, experts say that Russia's defense minister "likely sought to slow or suspend Western military aid to Ukraine and possibly weaken the Nato alliance in scare-mongering calls," according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

There is also speculation that Russia is planning to detonate a dirty bomb in Ukraine in a "false flag" attack, that is, it will pin the blame on Ukraine and justfify retaliation.

The ISW did say, however, that "the #Kremlin is unlikely to be preparing an imminent false-flag dirty bomb attack. #Shoigu’s claims further a longstanding Russian information campaign."


'Immediately Leave Ukraine': The Advisory

In the previous advisory, which was issued on 19 October, India had warned its citizens against traveling to the war-torn country, and had asked students who returned to Ukraine to leave in view of the "deteriorating security situation."

The fresh advisory read, "In continuation of the advisory issued by the Embassy on 19th Oct, all Indian citizens in Ukraine are advised to immediately leave Ukraine by available means. Some Indian nationals have already left Ukraine pursuant to earlier advisory,” the Indian embassy in Ukraine capital said in a statement."

(With inputs from the BBC and AP.)

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