US and Russian defense secretaries speak for the second time in three days amid “dirty bomb” claims.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Russian counterpart on Sunday for the second time in three days as Moscow says Ukraine is planning to use a “dirty” bomb.

“Secretary Austin rejected any pretext for Russian escalation and reaffirmed the value of continued communication in the midst of Russia’s illegal and unwarranted war against Ukraine,” a Pentagon reading of Sunday’s appeal said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also spoke to defense officials from Britain, France and Turkey over the weekend to express concern about “possible Ukrainian provocations involving a ‘dirty bomb’,” which is an explosive designed to spread material. radioactive over a large area.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin attends a press conference at a NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium on October 12, 2022.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin attends a press conference at a NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium on October 12, 2022.
(REUTERS / Yves Herman)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with graduates of military academies on the eve of the 81st anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II in Moscow, Russia, June 21, 2022.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with graduates of military academies on the eve of the 81st anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II in Moscow, Russia, June 21, 2022.
(Sputnik / Mikhail Metzel / Kremlin via REUTERS)

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace “refuted” claims that Ukraine was planning actions to escalate the war with help from Western countries, British officials said.

A French defense ministry reading said the situation in Ukraine “is rapidly deteriorating” and “tending to further uncontrolled escalation”.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “the world should react as hard as possible” to any Russian escalation.

“When the Russian defense minister organizes a telephone carousel today and calls foreign ministers with stories about the so-called ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb, everyone understands everything,” Zelenskyy said in a video speech.

“If Russia calls and says Ukraine is preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all of this.”

Ukrainian tank crew trains with infantry near Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine.

Ukrainian tank crew trains with infantry near Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine.
(John Moore / Getty Images)

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the “dirty bomb” claim “as absurd as it is dangerous”, writing that “Russians often accuse others of what they plan for themselves”.

Ukrainian forces have concentrated their counter-offensive in the southern Kherson region in recent weeks after making important progress in northern Kharviv last month. On Saturday, Russian-appointed officials were evacuating parts of Kherson ahead of what is believed to be fierce fighting this week.