Ukraine war heading for ‘uncontrolled escalation’, says Russia

Moscow appears to be preparing ground for further escalation with discredited claims that Kyiv may use ‘dirty’ bomb


Kremlin is likely to be weighing how to respond to yet another anticipated battlefield defeat. Photograph: AP


Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, has told western counterparts that the war in Ukraine is heading for an “uncontrolled escalation” amid evidence that the Kremlin is weighing how to respond to yet another anticipated battlefield defeat around the key southern city of Kherson.


With Russian troops setting up new defences for a fresh Ukrainian offensive in Luhansk in the country’s east as well, Moscow appears to be preparing the ground for yet further escalation, with discredited claims that Kyiv may be preparing to use a dirty bomb as a “false-flag operation” to blame Russia.


Refuting the Russian allegation, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview on Monday: “The allegation that Ukraine is preparing to use dirty bombs in Ukraine is absurd.”


Russian officials – including Vladimir Putin – have repeatedly hinted that the Kremlin may be prepared to use a nuclear weapon as part of its so-far failed brinkmanship to discourage Kyiv and its western allies, which have been supplying Ukraine with modern weapons, intelligence and training.


However, the Kremlin continued to push the claim of a Ukrainian dirty bomb on Monday, with Igor Kirilov, head of the Armed Forces radioactive weapons unit, saying that troops had been mobilised to work in a radioactively contaminated environment. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the threat was real. “Their distrust of the information that has been provided by the Russian side doesn’t mean that the threat of using such a dirty bomb doesn’t exist,” he told reporters.