Russian president says he sees ‘no point’ in detonating a dirty bomb
Vladimir Putin has denied that Russia is fuelling nuclear tensions and countered western warnings that Moscow might be planning to detonate a “dirty bomb” in Ukraine in a false flag operation, saying he saw “no point” in a nuclear strike.
In a speech at an international relations forum on Thursday, in which he seemed to take a more conciliatory tone than in prior months, the Russian president repeated his frequent complaints that the west was seeking to dominate the world.
But he concluded with a call for mutual respect, rather than issuing new threats. Asked about the prospect of nuclear war, he said: “We have said nothing about using nuclear weapons.” Russia had only ever replied with “hints” to provocative statements about nuclear weapon use from the west, Putin added.
However, he repeated a claim that Ukraine could be preparing a dirty bomb, a conventional explosive carrying radioactive material. Western capitals have described the accusation as “transparently false” and warned that Moscow could be planning such an attack with the intention to blame Kyiv for it and use it as pretext for escalation of the war.
A flurry of phone calls from Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu to Nato counterparts to discuss the allegations — which Kyiv flatly denies — has heightened fears that Moscow’s eight month-long invasion of Ukraine could go nuclear.
Putin rejected this, saying Russia would not use a dirty bomb. “We do not need this,” he said. “There is no point, neither political, nor military.” Putin claimed the rise in nuclear tensions was not being fuelled by Moscow — though his recent comments have included threats — but by western leaders instead.
This was being done in order to scare “neutral countries” away from co-operation with Russia, Putin claimed, by depicting it as “scary”. But striking a calmer note than in his past comments, Putin said nuclear tensions would not develop into a crisis as they had during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev negotiated with US president John F Kennedy.
“I cannot imagine myself in Khrushchev’s role, not under any circumstances,” said Putin, adding that Moscow was ready to find solutions. He noted that in December, Russia had approached the US with an offer to restart talks on strategic stability, but said Moscow had not received a response.
“If they want to, we’re ready,” he said. The Russian leader repeated complaints that the west sought to impose its will and values on other countries. “Russia is not challenging the western elite,” said Putin. “We are not trying to become the hegemonic power.” Instead, Russia was simply trying to “defend its right to exist”, he said.
He called China “a close friend” and noted that Turkey and its president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were “not easy partners”, but had “a desire to reach agreement”.
He added that the world had many centres of power and for this reason the UN Security Council needed to be restructured and a “dialogue on equal terms” begun between global powers, including Russia and the west. Putin also said he was considering attending the G20 meeting of global leaders due to take place in Indonesia next month.