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Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with newspeak: the “dirty bomb”

The Russians first started talking about a “dirty bomb” on the eve of a full-scale invasion. In December 2021, a fake video was posted on one of the propaganda resources, allegedly filmed by the Ukrainian National Corps, demonstrating some kind of “radioactive-filled device”. The video stated that such weapons would be used if Russian troops advance across Ukraine. At the beginning of February 2022, this story was picked up in a slightly improved form by other pro-Russian media and telegram channels. Subsequently, in the first days of March 2022, after the start of a full-scale war, propagandists claimed that “on the secret order of Zelenskyi”, work was underway in Ukraine to create a “dirty bomb” at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Allegedly, the increased radiation background characteristic of the Chornobyl zone, which was a consequence of the 1986 tragedy, made it possible to hide the conduct of such work, so the Russians attacked Ukraine, thus delivering a “preventive strike” and protecting themselves.

However, the story of the “dirty bomb” gained the most publicity in October 2022. The Russian Defense Minister Serhii Shoihu telephoned the defense ministers of France, Great Britain, Turkey and the United States to say that Ukraine was preparing a provocation with a “dirty bomb”. France, Great Britain and the United States responded to this with a joint statement in which they called Russia's message a lie.

In fact, Ukraine has never developed a so-called “dirty bomb”, and all statements by propagandists on this topic are fake. The Russian propaganda explanation as to why Ukraine would detonate a “dirty bomb” on its territory is baseless. Russia claims that Ukraine allegedly wanted to increase the number of Ukrainian refugees abroad in this way (for an unknown reason), as well as to pass off a “dirty bomb” as the explosion of a tactical nuclear charge to Russia itself in order to accuse the latter of using nuclear weapons. Then the international community should have condemned such actions by the Kremlin and introduced new sanctions, perhaps even expelling Russia from the UN Security Council, as well as increasing arms supplies to Ukraine.

Russia is speculating on the use of a “dirty bomb” to sow distrust in Ukraine and force the world to waste resources on refuting accusations from propagandists. An IAEA commission came to Ukraine to check whether a “dirty bomb” was really being developed at the facilities that Russia claimed - the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in Zhovti Vody and the Institute of Nuclear Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The result of the inspection was that the Agency did not identify any signs of such weapons at Ukrainian nuclear facilities.

A report from the American Institute for the Study of War says that Russian propaganda claims about the development of a “dirty bomb” are needed to slow down the process of arms supplies to Ukraine. At the same time, analysts believe that Russia is unlikely to detonate the so-called “dirty bomb” itself: this is just another attempt to “test” the international community in order to find out a possible reaction to the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.

After all, Ukraine has long insisted that Russia be recognized as a terrorist state. The fake news about Ukraine creating a “dirty bomb” is a mirror response from Russia, the purpose of which is to try to convince the world that it is Ukraine that is acting as a terrorist group. This, by the way, is one of the most common messages of Russian propaganda, constantly trying to accuse Ukraine of terrorism, saying that it itself fires at Ukrainian civilians and launches missile strikes on its own critical infrastructure.

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