Ukraine and its Western allies are dismissing a claim by Russian officials that a dirty bomb is being constructed in Kyiv, denouncing the allegation as a deceptive plot by Russia to try and escalate the Ukrainian war.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the claim over the weekend that Ukraine was preparing to launch a dirty bomb, described by CNN as a weapon that "combines conventional explosives like dynamite and radioactive material like uranium." However, officials in the United States, United Kingdom, and France joined Ukrainian officials in shooting down this allegation, calling it a "false flag" operation.
In a rare joint statement by the three countries, defense officials said they "all reject Russia's transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory." The governments added that "the world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation."
Ukraine has similarly dismissed the Russian claims as a disinformation plot and invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect sites within the country. However, officials also cautioned that Russia may actually be constructing a dirty bomb of its own in an attempt to pin an attack on Ukraine.
In a statement obtained by The Associated Press, Ukrainian nuclear enterprise Energoatom said Russian forces were "preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials" at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a pretext for escalation. Energoatom additionally said Russia would not allow IAEA inspectors to access the plant.