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Putin’s outlandish dirty bomb claims show how badly his army is doing | Hamish of Bretton-Gordon


PUtin’s conventional army is defeated by a much smaller force, albeit supported by the latest Western technology and intelligence. His ridiculous claim that Ukraine is planning to use a “dirty bomb” – an explosive device containing radioactive material – implies that he is now fumbling towards less conventional methods of warfare.

It’s not surprising when you see how mediocre the Russian military is, which Putin probably notices as well. Putin’s response was to appoint General “Armageddon” Surovikin as his commander-in-chief in Ukraine, and the dirty bomb allegation is straight out of Surovkin’s playbook.

The concept of a “dirty” bomb is a complete pipe dream – a fantasy designed to terrify Ukrainians and allow Russia to escalate its unconventional warfare. The complaint was rejected by France, Britain and the United States, and the UN is sending inspectors at Ukraine’s request to two nuclear sites to prove that it is baseless. There has never been a successful dirty bomb attack. But their psychological impact is 10 times greater than their physical effect, and Putin must be hoping that this will break the will of Ukrainians.

Putin’s unconventional style of warfare is to make the civilian population the target rather than the opposing army. And cynically, that makes sense, because his own soldiers were caught out against the Ukrainian army. The focus is now on attacking civilians as soldiers fight on the front lines: killing them on their way to work or children on their way to school. For the wounded of these attacks, the Russians then attack the hospitals to prevent care: 500 to date in this war, according to the World Health Organization.

Russia has tested and developed its concept of unconventional warfare in Syria. This included the use of chemical weapons, which the Assad regime turned to whenever defeat seemed imminent. The rebels were on the verge of storming Damascus in August 2013 when Assad dropped the deadly nerve agent sarin on the outskirts of Ghouta, killing more than 1,000 people and stopping the advance in its tracks. He also broke the conventional six-year siege of Duma with chlorine barrel bombs in 2018. Weapons like chlorine and dirty bombs are morbidly effective due to the terror they confer, and must be totally banned by the United Nations and the free world.

While I think a global nuclear war is highly unlikely, nothing less is possible, especially if Putin’s home territory of Crimea is threatened, which seems increasingly likely. In unconventional warfare, there is a real “dirty” nuclear threat, which could be almost as devastating as a nuclear weapon on a battlefield, by turning nuclear power plants into improvised nuclear weapons – essentially a huge “dirty” bomb .

In theory, the Geneva Conventions and rules of war prohibit unconventional warfare – but Putin and his generals seem more than willing to ignore both. The new Prime Minister must, together with NATO allies, ensure that Putin is never able to reach his most devastating unconventional weapons.

theguardian

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