Kremlin unlikely to be preparing imminent false-flag dirty bomb attack or non-strategic nuclear weapon strike – ISW

Latest news Ukraine

In their October 23 Russian offensive assessment, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu likely sought to slow Western military aid to Ukraine in his series of “scare-mongering calls” with several NATO defense ministers. ISW believes that Russia is unlikely to be preparing an imminent false-flag dirty bomb attack or a non-strategic nuclear weapon strike.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu likely sought to slow or suspend Western military aid to Ukraine and possibly weaken the NATO alliance in scare-mongering calls with several NATO defense ministers on October 23.

On 23 October, Shoigu separately called his counterparts from France, Turkey, the UK, and the US, putting forward the allegations that Ukraine is preparing a false-flag attack involving the use of a “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material that is not a nuclear weapon, to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction. “Russian state media amplified this false and ridiculous claim,” ISW wrote.

“Russian Ministry of Defense reports on the calls contain slight differences; they state that Shoigu discussed a claimed “steady tendency towards further, uncontrolled escalation” in Ukraine in the call with his French counterpart; discussed the “situation in Ukraine” and made false claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb in his calls with the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey; and simply discussed the situation in Ukraine without reference to a dirty bomb in his conversation with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.”

The Kremlin is unlikely to be preparing an imminent false-flag dirty bomb attack.

ISW says that Shoigu’s claims further a longstanding Russian information campaign as “the Kremlin has repeatedly claimed that Western states will help Ukraine conduct a false-flag WMD attack since the earliest stages of its invasion of Ukraine in February.” The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed it had information the US was “preparing provocations to accuse the Russian Armed Forces of using chemical, biological, or tactical nuclear weapons” in April. Meanwhile, Russian President Putin claimed in his February 24 pre-invasion speech that Ukraine was preparing for a nuclear attack against Russia.

Shoigu’s claims likely do not portend Russian preparations to use non-strategic nuclear weapons in Ukraine either.

ISW previously stated on September 30 that “ISW cannot forecast the point at which Putin would decide to use nuclear weapons. Such a decision would be inherently personal, but Putin’s stated red lines for nuclear weapon use have already been crossed in this war several times over without any Russian nuclear escalation.”

Russia does not “need,” under formal Russian nuclear doctrine, a further event to justify nuclear weapons use. Ukraine is not apparently on the verge of tripping some new Russian redline, on the other hand, that might cause Putin to use non-strategic nuclear weapons against it at this time. Shoigu’s comments are thus unlikely to presage a nuclear terror attack against one or more major Ukrainian population centers or critical infrastructure in hopes of shocking Ukraine into surrender or the West into cutting off aid to Ukraine.

Ukraine needs independent journalism. And we need you. Join our community on Patreon and help us better connect Ukraine to the world. We’ll use your contribution to attract new authors, upgrade our website, and optimize its SEO. For as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!