Sergei Shoigu spoke with French, British and Turkish counterparts by telephone on Sunday.
By Jacopo Barigazzi
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday had telephone calls with his French, British and Turkish counterparts in which he made unfounded claims that Ukraine might be preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” according to Russian readouts of the conversations.
The conversations took place after Russian President Vladimir Putin recently raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons in the war he launched against Ukraine. And after Shoigu faced intensifying political pressure over a series of disorderly retreats in Ukraine.
The calls came as Russia continues a mass evacuation of civilians from occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine and defense analysts believe that the movement of people is setting the scene for Moscow to withdraw its troops from a significant part of the region. But among EU diplomats, there are fears that Moscow is only setting the scene for things to get worse.
During the call with French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu, they discussed the situation in Ukraine, “which is rapidly deteriorating,” according to the Russian readout of the call. And Shoigu conveyed “his concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a ‘dirty bomb’,” the Russian ministry said without giving any further detail.