Ukraine cites drone downing success as Kyiv and Moscow swap ‘dirty bomb’ accusations

Ukrainian authorities tried to allay public fears over Russia’s use of Iranian drones by claiming growing success in downing them on Monday, while the Kremlin’s talk of a possible ‘dirty bomb’ attack added another disturbing dimension as the war enters its ninth month.

Ukrainians are bracing for less electricity this winter following a sustained Russian barrage on their infrastructure in recent weeks. Citizens of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv lined up for water and essential supplies as Ukrainian forces continued their advance on the nearby Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

Ukrainian forces shot down more than two-thirds of some 330 Shahed drones that Russia fired on Saturday, Ukraine’s intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said in an interview on Monday. Budanov said the Russian military has ordered around 1,700 different types of drones and is deploying a second batch of around 300 Shaheds.

“Terror with the use of Shaheds can actually last a long time,” he told Ukrainska Pravda newspaper. “Air defense basically doing, 70% down.”

Olha Fedorivna, 83, waits to fill her plastic bottles with drinking water from a tank in central Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, on Monday. Since mid-April, citizens of Mykolaiv have been living without a centralized supply of drinking water after Russian forces cut off the pipeline through which the city received drinking water. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

Russia and Iran deny Iranian-made drones were used in the war, but triangle-shaped Shahed-136s have swooped down on civilians in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine.

The UK MoD, in a Twitter intelligence update, said Russia would likely use large numbers of drones to try to penetrate ‘increasingly effective Ukrainian air defences’ – in part to substitute Russian-made long-range precision weapons” which are becoming increasingly rare. »

“Dirty bomb” warnings

The assessment came on top of a stern warning from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to key British, French, Turkish and American counterparts over the weekend that Ukrainian forces were planning a ‘provocation’ involving a radioactive device. – a so-called “dirty bomb”. Britain, France and the United States dismissed this claim as “manifestly false”.

A dirty bomb uses explosives to disperse radioactive waste in an attempt to spread terror. Such weapons lack the devastating destruction of a nuclear explosion, but could expose large areas to radioactive contamination.

Russian authorities on Monday doubled Shoigu’s warning.

Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, head of the Russian military’s radiation, chemical and biological protection forces, said Russian military assets were very ready to deal with possible radioactive contamination. He told reporters that a “dirty bomb” explosion could contaminate thousands of square miles and spit deadly radiation up to 1,500 miles away.

At a press conference on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the suspicions were not groundless. “We have serious reason to believe that such things could be planned.”

Downtown Kyiv is pictured without power on Monday following Russian missile attacks on critical civilian infrastructure. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Ukraine has dismissed Moscow’s claims and said it was an attempt to distract from Russia’s own plans to detonate a dirty bomb. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Monday dismissed as “outrageous” the claim that Ukraine might use a dirty bomb, saying there were “no indications” of it.

The White House again stressed on Monday that the Russian allegations were false.

“That’s just not true. We know that’s not true,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “In the past, Russians have on occasion blamed others for things they intended to do.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hinted that Moscow was itself preparing the ground for the deployment of a radioactive device on Ukrainian soil.

The country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday he had urged the United Nations nuclear watchdog to immediately send an inspection team to the country to refute Moscow’s claims. The International Atomic Energy Agency replied that it was preparing “safeguard visits” in the coming days.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday scheduled closed-door consultations at Russia’s request on what it claimed were Ukraine’s plans for a “dirty bomb”.

A street cleaner sweeps up autumn leaves near graffiti depicting a Ukrainian soldier firing an anti-tank missile in Kyiv on Monday. Writing on the missile reads: ‘The goal is one.’ (Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press)

Russia strengthens Kherson, says Ukraine

Zelenskyy’s office said on Monday that at least six civilians had been killed and five others injured by Russian shelling of several Ukrainian regions in the past 24 hours, including Mykolaiv – where energy facilities were targeted – and the town of Bakhmut. in the eastern region of Donetsk.

Later in the day, the Ukrainian army announced that it had “pushed the enemy out” of three villages in the eastern region of Luhansk and one in Donetsk. Moscow did not immediately comment on this claim.

Russian authorities said Ukrainian troops fired rockets at the main Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in the Kherson region. Vladimir Rogov, a senior official in the Russian-installed administration in neighboring Zaporizhzhia region, said the plant had not suffered serious damage and was continuing to operate.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of plotting to blow up the factory dam to flood the area as Ukrainian forces pushed an offensive on Kherson, which was captured by Russian troops early of the war.

Ukraine’s relentless artillery strikes on Kherson have cut off key crossing points on the Dnipro River, which runs through southern Ukraine, and left Russian troops on the west bank short of supplies and vulnerable to the encirclement. The region is one of four that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and brought under Russian martial law last week.

Budanov, Ukraine’s intelligence chief, played down speculation that Russian forces were preparing an immediate exit from Kherson.

As Russian forces helped evacuate hundreds of officials and residents, “at the same time they are bringing in new military units and preparing the streets of the city for defence,” he said.

Civilians evacuated from Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Kherson region sit inside a bus as they arrive at a train station in the Crimean town of Dzhankoi on Monday. (Alexei Pavlishak/Reuters)

Meanwhile, Russian authorities removed monuments to 18th-century Russian military leaders Alexander Suvorov and Fyodor Ushakov from Kherson to save them from Ukrainian bombardment.

On Saturday, Russian-installed authorities told all residents of Kherson to leave “immediately” ahead of an expected advance by Ukrainian troops leading a counteroffensive to retake the town, which lies on a key route to the peninsula of Black Sea occupied by Russia in Crimea.

Ongoing outages expected

A poll released on Monday by the International Institute of Sociology in Kyiv showed that 86% of Ukrainians polled agreed that Ukraine’s armed struggle against Russia should continue. Some 10% think it is necessary to start negotiations with Russia even if Ukraine has to make concessions. The telephone survey of 1,000 adults across Ukraine was conducted from Friday to Sunday, he said.

Residents of Mykolaiv, northwest of Kherson, echoed the determination to keep fighting – even as their town comes under bombardment almost every night and residents have to queue during the day for food. food and water.

“Ukraine is doing the right thing. The Russians attacked us, and they must be beaten for it,” said 76-year-old Mykola Kovalenko. “Of course, my life has changed. I live with constant pressure.”

A Ukrainian serviceman hugs his partner as they say goodbye before he leaves next to a military barracks in Mykolaiv on Monday. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

In preparation for the coming winter, Kyiv and seven other Ukrainian regions forecast power outages on Monday as authorities worked to repair damage to energy facilities caused by Russian shelling.

Zelenskyy said repair crews were working to restore electricity supplies cut off by large-scale Russian missile strikes on Saturday, and called on local authorities to ensure Ukrainians heed the call for save energy.

“Now is definitely not the time for window displays and illuminated signs,” he said.

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