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Putin’s Dirty Bomb Scam in Ukraine: What is Russia Thinking?

Ukraine War with Russia
A Ukrainian serviceman fires with a mortar at a position, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at an unknown location in Kharkiv region, Ukraine May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Over the past few days, the war in Ukraine has taken a sinister hue. Russian officials and media have been creating the conditions for what might be a false flag operation involving a “dirty weapon.”

The Russian story is that Ukraine will be seeking to use a “dirty bomb” (some sort of radiological munition) and blame Moscow in order to gain more support from the West.

Russia has a track record of using outright lies to achieve its goals, so this warning is most likely an attempt either sow division in the West or create the conditions for a false flag operation (in which Russians would pose as Ukrainians).

Dirty Bomb Scam

What Moscow is doing right now resembles what it did this time around nine months ago when it repeatedly tried to manipulate the information environment in order to justify an invasion of Ukraine.

In the build-up to the Russian invasion, the Kremlin’s information warfare machine was running on high, looking to fabricate pretexts that would offer Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade his neighbor an air of legitimacy.

The U.S. Intelligence Community and other Western intelligence services were very proactive—indeed, unprecedently so—in declassifying and sharing intelligence that revealed the Russian plans to create false pretexts for the invasion, including false flag operations that would make it seem that Ukraine was the aggressor and that the Russian military had to respond in defense. Putin and his Kremlin advisers weren’t expecting that.

Indeed, that is the first time the U.S. Intelligence Community has weaponized intelligence in such a proactive manner. And although, at the end of the day, the aggressive declassification of intel didn’t dissuade Putin as he went on with his war, it played a big part in creating a coalition of nations that were eager to support Ukraine’s existential fight. That is an often overlooked, but critical, effect of the U.S. intelligence strategy leading up to the war.

Steadfast Support 

Meanwhile, the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom released a joint statement in a sign of solidarity with and support of Ukraine.

“We, the Foreign Ministers of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, reiterate our steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression. We remain committed to continuing supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend its territory for as long as it takes,” the three countries stated in their joint statement.

In their statements, the three countries make it clear that they reject Moscow’s “transparently false allegations” with respect to a Ukrainian “dirty bomb” that Kyiv intends to use on its own territory in order to garner more support for its fight against Russia.

“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia,” the three countries added.

Ben Wallace, the British Minister of Defense, also issued a separate statement on the contents of his call with Shoigu.


SYRIA – U.S. Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in northern Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, Mar. 24, 2017. The unit provided 24/7 support in all weather conditions to allow for troop movements, to include terrain denial and the subduing of enemy forces. More than 60 regional and international nations have joined together to enable partnered forces to defeat ISIS and restore stability and security. CJTF-OIR is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (Note: these are similar weapons to the ones being sent to Ukraine).

“Minister Shoigu alleged that Ukraine was planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the UK, to escalate the conflict in Ukraine. The Defence Secretary refuted these claims and cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation,” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on a statement.

“The Defence Secretary also reiterated UK and wider international support for Ukraine and desire to de-escalate this conflict. It is for Ukraine and Russia to seek resolution to the war and the UK stands ready to assist. The Secretary of State observed that both Ministers were professional and respectful on the call,” Wallace added on his statement.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

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