A senior US official told The New York Times on Tuesday that there are "new, troubling developments" involving Russia's nuclear arsenal. The official, who asked to remain anonymous, would not provide any further details, according to the report.
The report comes as Russia has accused Ukraine of preparing to use a dirty bomb or even a nuclear bomb as the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south and east of the country pushes on. The claims have sparked concerns that Russia could be preparing a "false flag" attack to justify an escalation of means.
Ukraine said on Tuesday that persistent Russian claims that Kyiv plans to detonate a dirty bomb made it look as though Moscow itself planned to conduct a false flag operation, and that Ukraine has never had any plans to develop a dirty bomb.
"If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all of this,” Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.
"If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,”Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky
The White House National Security Council also rejected Russia's claims. “The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation,” a statement said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a news conference that experts from the IAEA - the United Nations nuclear watchdog - would soon be arriving in Ukraine and receive full access, and he called on Moscow to demonstrate the same transparency.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell welcomed Ukraine’s decision to request an expert mission from the UN’s nuclear watchdog to examine its facilities.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday, according to the Us Department of State. The Secretary reaffirmed enduring US support for Ukraine in the face of continued Russian aggression, atrocities, and rhetoric surrounding so-called “dirty bombs” in Ukraine.
Top officials from the United States, Britain and France issued a rare joint statement calling out what they said was a transparent ploy by Moscow to create a pretext for escalating the war in Ukraine on Monday, rejecting claims by Moscow that Kyiv was preparing to detonate a dirty bomb on its own territory.
A dirty bomb detonated by Ukraine could give Moscow an excuse to use, or at the very least threaten to use, a tactical nuclear weapon in response.
While the officials said that there was no change in Russia’s nuclear arsenal, further stating that it seems that no decision has yet been made to use a tactical nuclear weapon, they made clear that a move in that direction was their central concern, according to the New York Times.
“We’ve not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture, nor do we have indications that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons,” Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, said. “But we’ve heard these very concerning statements, and we wanted to send a very clear signal.”
The United States has no indications that Russia has made any decision to use a nuclear weapon, biological weapon, or chemical weapon, a separate US military official has said, according to the Guardian.
The US believes Russia is “keeping lines of communication open” after Moscow requested a call between US defense secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday, the official added.
Russia pushes "dirty bomb" fears
"Washington's position on Kyiv's plans to use a "dirty bomb" is unacceptable given the seriousness of such a threat," the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov said in a press conference on Tuesday, according to TASS.
“This is an approach that is far from serious, this is an approach that, I would say, is unacceptable against the backdrop of the seriousness of the danger we are talking about,” he said.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the threat of Ukraine's possible use of a "dirty bomb" would be discussed at the UN Security Council. According to him, the Russian side's information that provocations using a "dirty bomb" may be planned in Ukraine is "quite reliable."
Russia to conduct nuclear exercises
The Russian Federation plans to conduct nuclear "Grom" exercises after the conclusion of the Steadfast Noon nuclear deterrence exercises, which started on October 17 and will last until October 30, according to Ukrainian media.
And although these exercises are held regularly immediately after similar NATO exercises, this time much more attention is paid to their progress.
Although the exact dates of "Grom-2022" have not yet been announced, according to an agreement with the USA, the Kremlin must warn about such exercises in advance so that it does not look like the beginning of a nuclear attack.
Reuters contributed to this report.