Russia is 'desperate' and trying anything to hang on says Hamish
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With Ukrainian forces advancing into Russian-occupied Kherson province, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu phoned Western counterparts on Sunday to tell them Moscow suspected Kyiv of planning to use a so-called “dirty bomb”. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of France, Britain and the United States said they had all rejected the allegations and reaffirmed their support for Ukraine against Russia. Former commanding officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said the use of a dirty bomb shows Russia is “absolutely desperate”.
Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “Any use of a dirty bomb or any potential to turn these nuclear power stations into dirty bombs will get a very strong response, very strong conventional response from the West.
“It’s the death throes of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“They are absolutely desperate and would appear to be trying almost anything to hang on.”
In an overnight address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian accusation was a sign Moscow was planning such an attack itself and would blame Ukraine.
President Zelensky said: “If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this.
“So when today the Russian Minister of Defense organises a phone carousel and calls foreign ministers with stories about the so-called ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb, everyone understands everything well.
“Understands who is the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war.”
Asked about the fact that others did not seem to believe Russian accusations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a briefing on Monday: “Their disbelief doesn’t mean there’s no threat … The threat is evident.”
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Russia has ordered civilians to evacuate territory it controls on the western bank of the Dnipro River, where Ukrainian forces have been advancing since the start of this month shortly after Moscow claimed to have annexed the area.
A Russian defeat there would be one of Moscow’s biggest setbacks of the war. Kherson’s regional capital is the only big city Russia has captured intact since the invasion in February, and its only foothold is on the west bank of the Dnipro, which bisects Ukraine. The province controls the gateway to Crimea, the peninsula Russia seized and claimed to annex in 2014.
The Russian-installed authorities in Kherson announced on Monday that men who stay behind would have the option of joining a military self-defence unit. Kyiv accuses Russia of press-ganging men in occupied areas into military formations, a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s military spy chief, said Russian forces were preparing to defend Kherson city, not retreat from it, and reported evacuations were part of a Russian information campaign. While Russia is moving financial structures, equipment, vulnerable residents and wounded people from Kherson, he said, it is also reinforcing defences.
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“They are creating the illusion that all is lost. Yet at the same time they are moving new military units in and preparing to defend the streets of Kherson,” he told Interfax Ukraine news agency.
Since Russia’s forces suffered major battlefield defeats in September, President Vladimir Putin has escalated the war, calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists, announcing the annexation of occupied territory and repeatedly threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian land.
This month, Russia has started a new campaign using long-range cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones to attack Ukraine’s electric power and heat ahead of winter.
Russian state television is filled with talk shows featuring pundits who are openly cheering attacks on Ukrainian civil infrastructure and call for ever-tougher measures to eliminate what they describe as an illegitimate Ukrainian state.
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