Europe urged to play active role to mediate Russia-Ukraine conflict following trading of 'dirty bomb' accusation
Published: Oct 25, 2022 11:02 PM
Ukrainian servicemen fire French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre gun Caesar at a frontline in the eastern region of Donbass on June 15, 2022. Ukraine pleaded with Western governments to decide quickly on sending heavy weapons to shore up its faltering defenses. Photo: AFP

Ukrainian servicemen fire French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre gun Caesar at a frontline in the eastern region of Donbass on June 15, 2022. Photo: AFP

As the possible use of "dirty bombs" became the latest spotlight on the battlefield between Russia and Ukraine, Chinese experts warned that it would bring an inevitable escalation of conflicts that may lead to the eventual firing of nuclear weapons. They urged Europe to play an active role in mediating between the two sides, rather than be tied blindly to the American chariot. 

Russia intends to raise at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday its accusation that Ukraine is planning a "dirty bomb" attack and has urged UN chief Antonio Guterres to do all he can to "prevent this heinous crime from happening," Reuters reported on Tuesday.

In a letter to Guterres and the UN Security Council, Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said they will regard the use of "dirty bombs" as "an act of nuclear terrorism," urging Western countries to exert their influence on Ukraine to abandon its dangerous plans threatening international peace and security."

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed Russia's accusation saying it was "planning such an attack itself to blame on Ukraine," reported Reuters.

A dirty bomb, or radiological dispersal device, is a weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. It is said to act mostly through the effects of contamination on the environment and related health effects of radiation poisoning in the affected populations.

The main purpose of dirty bomb is to create an atmosphere of terror among the masses, experts said. 

Accusing each other over the possible use of dirty bombs reflects worries from both Russia and Ukraine on the use of weapons of mass destruction, which will cause the war to spiral out of control. "Dirty bombs are despised and unaccepted by the international community. Once used, it indicates the use of nuclear weapons could possibly follow, and the escalation of conflicts is inevitable," Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Western countries have rejected Russia's allegation as "transparently false," the foreign ministers of France, Britain and the US said in a joint statement.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday that "It would certainly be another example of President Putin's brutality, if he were to use a so-called dirty bomb," adding that it was important that Moscow know the "profound nature of the consequences" should it engage in nuclear use, US News reported. 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that Russia's allegation that Ukraine is preparing to use dirty bombs in Ukraine is absurd. 

For the US and the NATO, as long as Russia can be defeated, they do not care what weapons are used, even if that would bring unimaginable consequences to the European continent, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

However, there have emerged other voices in Europe that were once tied to the American chariot but now realize that they should not push Russia into a corner.

"Germany, in particular, has shifted tone on Ukraine in recent days along with some other European countries," Cui said. "Not to mention a nuclear war, they can't even bear the consequences of the previous escalation between Russia and Ukraine, when both sides attacked civilian facilities. That was not in line with the security interest of Europe." 

Experts urged Europe to stop blindly following in the US' footsteps and play an active role in being a mediator between two sides, as they are the most suitable parties and the ones that can actually make a difference. 

Observers also noted that the "dirty bomb" calls echo the nuclear exercises being conducted by both NATO and Russia in recent days. 

While both drills were long-planned and are held each year, the exercises have not previously taken place against the backdrop of a Russia-Ukraine conflict, a TIME report said. 

"Against such a backdrop, Russia is sending a warning to the West, that they should not play with fire on nuclear issues. As now there is a dangerous trend observed globally, that countries are moving further away from the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty while the use of nuclear weapons is more and more frequently mentioned on various occasions," Cui noted.