What’s behind Russian claims of so-called ‘dirty bomb’ in Ukraine?

What’s behind Russian claims of so-called ‘dirty bomb’ in Ukraine?

October 24, 20221 min read

A “dirty bomb” has never been used in conflict, and Tulane University political scientist Chris Fettweis doesn’t expect one to be used in the Russia-Ukraine war.

A dirty bomb is a mix of explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive powder or pellets. When the explosives are set off, the blast carries radioactive material into the surrounding area.

Russia has accused Ukraine of planning such an attack. But those claims have been refuted by NATO, and U.S. officials have called them “transparently false.”

Fettweis, who specializes in international relations, said it is “crazy” to even fathom the idea that Ukraine would use a dirty bomb on its own land. He said such claims by Russia are likely designed to raise fear among Russians and rally them against Ukraine.

Fettweis said Russian public opinion is “turning against” Putin, and spreading such rumors is his way of gaining back support.

"It seems to me this is one of these figments of Putin's imagination, that he likes to throw out there and put on RT," Fettweis told Newsweek, referring to the Russian state-media organization. "It would not make any sense for the Ukrainians to do something like that. Even to try to get public opinion against the Russians because why would anyone believe the Russians?"

Fettweis is available for media interviews and can be reached at fettweis@tulane.edu.

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  • Christopher Fettweis
    Christopher Fettweis Associate Professor

    Christopher Fettweis researches international relations and US foreign policy

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