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A radioactivity symbol is pictured at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Villepinte, France in June 2018. Moscow is accusing Kyiv of plans to set off a dirty bomb. Photo: Reuters

Russia raises Ukraine ‘dirty bomb’ accusation at UN

  • At the closed-door meeting of the Security Council, however, Moscow did not provide new evidence for claims of a plot to use the radioactive device
  • Kyiv has asked for inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog in apparent response to the allegations
Ukraine war

Russia on Tuesday took its accusation that Ukraine was preparing to use a dirty bomb – an explosive device laced with radioactive material – to the United Nations Security Council, voicing its concerns during a closed-door meeting of the 15-member body.

“We’re quite satisfied because we raised the awareness,” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters. “I don’t mind people saying that Russia is crying wolf if this doesn’t happen because this is a terrible, terrible disaster that threatens potentially the whole of the Earth.”

Russia has alleged that Kyiv has ordered two organisations to create a dirty bomb, without giving any evidence. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia sent a letter to the United Nations on Monday detailing the accusations.

“We’ve seen and heard no new evidence,” Britain’s Deputy UN Ambassador James Kariuki told reporters, referring to Russia’s “transparently false allegations”. He added: “This is pure Russian misinformation of the kind of we’ve seen many times before and it should stop.”

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When asked what evidence Russia had to back its claims, Polyanskiy told reporters that it was intelligence information that had been shared with Western counterparts with the “necessary level of clearance”.

The UN nuclear watchdog – the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – is preparing to send inspectors in the coming days to two Ukrainian sites at Kyiv’s request – an apparent reaction to Russia’s dirty bomb claims.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has responded by accusing Russia of planning such an attack itself to blame on Ukraine. Western countries also rejected Russia’s allegation as a pretext for intensifying the eight-month-long war.

The Security Council discussion on Tuesday was the first of three likely meetings requested by Russia this week.


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“It’s completely wasting our time and it’s misinformation and it should stop,” Kariuki said.

Russia has asked the council to be briefed on Wednesday on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ mandate under a 2015 resolution enshrining the Iran nuclear deal. The move comes after Ukraine and Western allies accused Russia of using Iranian-made drones in Ukraine in violation of the resolution and asked Guterres to investigate.

The council is also due to meet on Thursday on Russian accusations that there are “military biological programmes” in Ukraine. The United States and Western allies have slammed Russia for spreading propaganda, disinformation and “nonsense” when it has previously raised the issue at the Security Council.

Russia has circulated a draft resolution to council members to set up a commission – made up of all 15 council members – “to investigate into the claims against the US and Ukraine contained in the complaint of the Russian Federation”.

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It was not immediately clear if or when Russia would put it to a vote. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetos by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain to pass.

The Security Council has met dozens of times on Ukraine since Moscow invaded its neighbour on February 24, but is unable to take meaningful action as Russia protects itself with its veto.

Russia has, however, been diplomatically isolated. Earlier this month, three-quarters of the 193-member General Assembly – 143 countries – voted to condemn Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four partially occupied regions in Ukraine and called on all countries not to recognise the move.