Russian troops being trained to fight in radioactive conditions, Moscow claims

TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on October 19, 2022. - Vladimir Putin on October 19 introduced martial law in Ukraine's Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions that Moscow claims to have annexed. (Photo by Sergei ILYIN / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI ILYIN/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin has threatened he will defend Russia's "territorial integrity" with nuclear weapons. (Getty)

Russia has been accused of stoking misinformation after Moscow claimed Ukraine is planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" to escalate the crisis.

The Kremlin said, without providing any evidence, that Russian troops have consequently begun training for readiness in conditions of "radioactive contamination".

After weeks of rising international tension following threats by President Vladimir Putin to defend Russia's "territorial integrity" with nuclear weapons, this is the first concrete statement from Moscow indicating a change in its forces' state of preparedness.

Russia is expected to raise the accusation at the United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday, urging UN chief Antonio Guterres to do all he can to "prevent this heinous crime from happening."

President Putin visited a military training ground this week as Russian officials warned its troops were preparing to work under radioactive contamination (Getty).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has responded by accusing Russia of planning such an attack itself to blame on Ukraine.

The US, UK and France also released a joint statement rejecting "Russia's transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory".

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said the organisation "rejected this allegation. Russia must not use it as a pretext for escalation."

On Sunday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Western defence ministers that Moscow believed Ukraine was preparing to detonate a "dirty bomb" - a device using conventional explosives packed with radioactive material to spread contamination over a wide area.

Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, head of Russia's nuclear, biological and chemical protection troops, told a media briefing on Monday that the aim of such an attack would be to blame the resulting radioactive contamination on Russia by accusing it of detonating a low-grade nuclear weapon.

Ukraine wanted to paint Russia as a "nuclear terrorist," he said. "The aim of the provocation would be to accuse Russia of using a weapon of mass destruction in the Ukrainian military theatre and by that means to launch a powerful anti-Russian campaign in the world, aimed at undermining trust in Moscow."

He added: "Work has been organised by the ministry of defence to counter possible provocations from the Ukrainian side: forces and resources have been put in readiness to perform tasks in conditions of radioactive contamination."

KHARKIV, UKRAINE - OCTOBER 19: A man pauses by a grave as Ukrainian flags fly in a cemetery for soldiers killed in action following the Russian invasion earlier this year, on October 19, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russia's president Vladimir Putin today imposed martial law on the four Ukrainian regions occupied by Russian forces as large numbers of civilians were being moved out of the Kherson area ahead of a Ukrainian offensive. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Russia has accused Ukraine of plotting to use radioactive bombs in what is feared to be an effort to justify a 'retaliation'. (Getty).

The comments come amid of flurry of high-level diplomacy.

At the weekend, Shoigu spoke with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for the second time in three days as well as UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Wallace vehemently rejected Russian claims that Western powers are colluding with Ukraine on a “provocation” involving a radioactive “dirty bomb”.

The head of the British armed forces also used a call with his Russian counterpart to restate Britain's support for Ukraine.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin spoke to General Valery Gerasimov at the request of the Russian defence ministry.

An MoD spokesman said Admiral Sir Tony had also rejected Russia’s allegations that “Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict”.

He said: “At the request of the Russian Ministry of Defence, the chief of the defence staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, spoke with his Russian counterpart, general of the army Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov, this afternoon.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaking at BAE systems in Barrow-in-Furness as HMS Anson is officially commissioned into the Royal Navy as the UK's newest Astute-Class attack submarine. Picture date: Wednesday August 31, 2022.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace has rejected Russian claims that Western powers are colluding with Ukraine on a 'provocation' involving a radioactive bomb (PA).

“The Chief of the Defence Staff rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict, and he restated the UK’s enduring support for Ukraine."

The spokesman said that both military leaders had agreed the importance of maintaining open channels of communication between the UK and Russia to manage the risk of miscalculation and to "facilitate de-escalation".

Downing Street said it was “too early” whether the calls, at the initiation of Moscow, were a sign that Russia is trying to engage with the West to ease tensions but “it remains important that we have these open channels of communication”.

“Obviously, we would welcome any conversations, but I think what you’re seeing play out on the ground does not suggest any toning down in approach,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“There continues to be indiscriminate attacks on a daily basis.”