In the latest study, the Institute of the Study of War, focuses on the numerous phone contacts Russian Defense Minister Shoigu had with his western counterparts and the absurd allegations that Ukraine is planning a false-flag “dirty bomb” strike against Russia in order to intimidate NATO and force Ukraine into making concessions.
On the battleground Russians face defeats. Ukrainian forces launched their offensive operations in northeastern Ukraine while Russian forces kept up their demands for Kherson’s evacuation.
Shoigu call defense ministers from France, Turkey, the UK, and the US
During his alarmist phone talks with multiple NATO defense ministers on October 23, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu probably wanted to reduce or halt Western military assistance to Ukraine and perhaps damage the NATO alliance.
On October 23, Shoigu called his counterparts from France, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States separately and asserted that Ukraine was planning a false-flag attack using a dirty bomb (a conventional explosive infused with radioactive material but not a nuclear weapon) to accuse Russia of using mass destruction weapons.
This inaccurate and absurd assertion was promoted by Russian official media. The reports from the Russian Ministry of Defense on the calls differ slightly; they claim that Shoigu discussed the “situation in Ukraine” and made false claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb in his conversations with the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey; and that he merely discussed the situation in Ukraine without mentioning a dirty bomb in his calls with the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey.
Austin rejects Shoigu’s false accusations
Following their phone talks with Shoigu, US Secretary Austin contacted his British colleague, Ben Wallace, to categorically deny and reject the false accusations that Shoigu had made. As at the time of writing, neither France nor Turkey had made any official statements.
It seems improbable that the Kremlin is preparing an impending false-flag dirty bomb strike. Shoigu’s assertions support an ongoing information effort in Russia. Since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine in February, the Kremlin has consistently asserted that Western nations will assist Ukraine in carrying out a false-flag attack with the use of weapons of mass destruction.
The US was “preparing provocations to accuse the Russian Armed Forces of deploying chemical, biological, or tactical nuclear weapons,” according to intelligence the Russian Ministry of Defense said it acquired in April.
Putin also asserted false accusations against Ukraine just before the invasion
Putin asserted that Ukraine was preparing to launch a nuclear strike on Russia in his pre-invasion speech on February 24, and Russian state disinformation channels frequently asserted that Western nations were assisting Ukraine in developing nuclear weapons and plotting false-flag attacks.
Shoigu’s assertions are probably not a sign that Russia is getting ready to unleash non-strategic nuclear weapons against Ukraine. Although such a choice would inevitably be subjective, this war has already repeatedly surpassed Putin’s stated red lines for the use of nuclear weapons without any Russian nuclear escalation.
According to official Russian nuclear policy, Russia “needs” no additional occasion to use nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it doesn’t appear that Ukraine is about to cross a new Russian redline that would prompt Putin to employ non-strategic nuclear weapons against it at this moment. Therefore, Shoigu’s remarks are unlikely to portend a nuclear terror assault against one or more important Ukrainian population centers or infrastructure in an effort to startle Ukraine into capitulating or persuade the West to stop providing aid to Ukraine.
The West would find it extremely difficult to simply surrender in the face of such horrific acts because of the precedent such a surrender would set, and such attacks would be highly unlikely to force Ukraine or the West to surrender given that Ukraine’s government and people have repeatedly shown their willingness to continue fighting.
Russia uses false dirty bomb threats to doscourage the West to support Ukraine – ISW
Therefore, it is likely that Shoigu’s calls – along with the exaggeration of false dirty bomb threats by Russian state media – are meant to intimidate Western states into reducing or discontinuing their support for Ukraine as Russia continues to suffer military setbacks and is likely to lose western Kherson by the end of the year.
ISW has determined since May that Putin wants to use nuclear brinkmanship to push Ukraine to accept his terms and discourage ongoing Western backing for Ukraine.
The Kremlin has frequently portrayed the US and UK as the main supporters of Ukraine and the promoters of what it thinks are aggressive actions toward Russia, while France and Turkey have positioned themselves as mediators in the dispute. Moscow desperately is trying to find ways to save its disastrous situation.
Source: ISW report on October 23