Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu briefed Singh on the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, including “his concerns about possible provocations through the use of a dirty bomb”, while discussing the conflict as well as bilateral defence cooperation. “Both ministers agreed to remain in touch,” the statement added.
In a call to his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe also on Wednesday, Shoigu voiced similar concerns over Ukraine planning the use of a dirty bomb in the conflict. The conversations took place at Shoigu’s initiative amidst the escalation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, with Washington earlier this week telling Moscow that its allegations of Kyiv preparing a dirty bomb were “patently false”.
With some western analysts even voicing the fear that Russia’s accusations about dirty bombs against Ukraine could be a prelude to its use of low-yield tactical nuclear weapons to stem its conventional military reverses on the battlefield, US President Joe Biden also warned Moscow that it would be a “serious, serious mistake” to make. “Let me just say: Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake if it uses a tactical nuclear weapon,” Biden said.
Unlike tactical or strategic nuclear weapons, which Ukraine does not have, a dirty bomb is basically a radiological dispersal device that combines radioactive material like uranium with conventional explosives like dynamite or TNT.
Russia’s outreach to India and China on Wednesday came even as President Vladimir Putin observed his strategic forces conduct an exercise, which included ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines and strategic bombers, to test responses to a nuclear strike.
Unlike western countries led by the US, India has tried to strike a balance in the Russian-Ukraine conflict in keeping with its own strategic interests. PM Narendra Modi has talked to both Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to call for an early cessation of hostilities and the need to pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy. “Today’s era is not an era of war,” Modi had told Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conclave in Samarkand last month.