Day 244 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russia will Bear the Consequences if it uses a "Dirty Bomb" according to the US

World » UKRAINE | October 25, 2022, Tuesday // 10:15
Bulgaria: Day 244 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russia will Bear the Consequences if it uses a "Dirty Bomb" according to the US @Flickr

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Yevgeny Prigozhin amasses power and becomes a threat to Putin

Russian oligarch, entrepreneur and owner of the Wagner Private Military Company Yevgeny Prigozhin, whom the media call "Putin's chef", continues to amass power and create a military structure parallel to the Russian armed forces, which could prove to be a threat to the governance of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. That's the conclusion of a daily analysis by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) published on Tuesday morning.

The basis for such a conclusion is the reports of Russian microbloggers that Prigozhin sponsored the formation in the structure of "Wagner" of a volunteer battalion recruited by the Russian war criminal and former officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Igor Girkin. Girkin is an ardent critic of the Russian high command and a prominent figure among the Russian ultranationalists involved in the annexation of Crimea and the illegal Russian seizure of Ukrainian territory in the Donbas in 2014. According to microbloggers, the structure of the Armed Forces of Russia has long prevented Girkin from forming his own volunteer battalion due to lack of supplies and other bureaucratic constraints, while Prigozhin had the luxury of running Wagner's forces without the direct supervision of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Prigozhin occupies a uniquely comfortable position in the Russian state structure and information space, allowing him to expand his constituency in Russia more easily than the disgraced Russian high military command. “Putin's chef” can freely promote himself and his forces while criticizing Kremlin officials or the Russian armed forces without fear of backlash. Putin is dependent on Wagner's forces at Bakhmut and is likely trying to appease Prigozhin despite the fact that Prigozhin is undermining the conventional Russian army. Yevgeny Viktorovich, for example, sarcastically stated in an interview that he was building the "Wagner Line" in an attempt to make the Russian armed forces, who were "hiding behind Wagner's back," feel safe.

The oligarch also frequently voices his criticism of the Russian military in interviews with Russian online publications and among PMC Wagner's Telegram channels, which allow him to reach and interact with an audience unavailable to the Russian Ministry of Defense, which is limited in its public statements and means of communication.

Prigozhin also benefits from the fact that he does not hold an official position of responsibility. He does not command any axis in Ukraine, nor is he responsible for any major bureaucratic efforts. He can freely criticize those in positions of authority without fear that someone might point to something for which he was specifically responsible and which he failed to achieve.

The entrepreneur appears to have distanced himself from his counterpart, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, after their joint criticism of the Russian high command on October 1 attracted too much attention. This rhetorical shift may indicate that Kadyrov is losing influence and position and may fear losing his control over the Chechen Republic amid growing disapproval of Chechen society for his demands to support Putin's war.

Attempts by Russia and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to launch an information campaign against Ukraine about the possible use of a so-called “dirty bomb” under a foreign flag are another highlight of ISW's analysis. After the telephone marathon of Shoigu, who spoke with his military counterparts in Turkey, France, Great Britain and the United States, on Monday, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, held similar conversations, who called the chiefs of staff of the armies of the United States and Great Britain . The campaign is supported on the flanks by the head of the Russian forces for radiation, chemical and biological protection, Lt. Gen. Igor Kirilov, who gave a briefing widely rebroadcast by Russian paramilitary microbloggers.

Against the background of these larger-scale problems for the Russian army and the course of combat operations, analysts also pay attention to something smaller - the growing nationalism in the ranks of Putin's army. Racism and bigotry continue to plague the Russian armed forces, increasing the likelihood of ethnic conflict. Footage has been leaked on the Russian segment of social media showing a Russian officer beating a Muslim soldier for attempting to turn to Allah during the canonical time for namaz (prayer prostrations), which for each geographical point is performed at a specific time facing Mecca. The video shows the officer pushing the Muslim soldier and telling him he will pray when told. "While Russian microbloggers deny the authenticity of the footage, previous incidents of religiously or ethnically-based violence, such as the October 15 shooting at a training range in Belgorod Oblast, indicate that such problems will only deepen over time," ISW analyzed.

Poll: Less than a third of US Republicans approve of aid to Ukraine

How do Americans feel about the war after the massive military and non-military aid and billions of dollars provided by Washington to Kyiv in the 9-month conflict? And after 30 progressive congressmen sent a letter to President Joe Biden demanding that efforts be made to directly contact Russia and negotiate a ceasefire in Ukraine?

Opinions vary, but according to a Morning Consult poll, only 29 percent of Republicans believe the U.S. should help Ukraine. For independents, this percentage is 38%, and for Democrats, 56%. Overall, 42% of respondents believe that aid should continue.

The US has spent billions of dollars on American taxpayers for the conflict, and in an environment of serious economic problems, this does not make people happy.

Analysts say support for the Ukrainians remains relatively strong, but cracks are beginning to appear, especially when it comes to spending. And not coincidentally in the race, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said last week that if Republicans win the midterm elections, they won't write a "blank check" to Kyiv. Which prompted President Biden to state that he fears for the future of the United States.

The German president is in Kyiv

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has made a surprise arrival in Kyiv. The visit was postponed last week for security reasons.

After the third attempt, German President Steinmeier arrived in Ukraine. At the beginning of the war, relations between Berlin and Kyiv were strained because of Germany's refusal to supply weapons to the Ukrainian army. And President Volodymyr Zelensky unequivocally showed that he does not look favorably on Steinmeier's planned visit to Kyiv in April because of his role as German foreign minister for close relations with Russia.

During the day, Frank-Walter Steinmeier should be received by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with whom they will discuss assistance to Ukraine. The two will appeal to cities and municipalities in both countries to build partnerships that will contribute to the restoration of infrastructure destroyed by Russian missile strikes. A conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine is being held in Berlin today.

US to send Ukraine HAWK anti-drone missiles

The United States is considering sending older HAWK air defense equipment to Ukraine to defend against Russian drone and cruise missile attacks. Since Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine, the United States has sent Kyiv more than $17.5 billion in military aid.

A conference is being held in Berlin today on the reconstruction of Ukraine, which, according to preliminary data, needs at least 350 billion euros.

US President Joe Biden promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Washington would provide Ukraine with advanced air systems following Russia's devastating missile attack earlier this month.

The White House has not yet given details on the new military aid to Ukraine. It also remains unclear how many HAWK systems will be provided to Kyiv. The interceptor missiles build on the shorter-range Stinger missile systems and are a precursor to the Patriot missile defense system.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Spain intends to send four HAWK installations.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov spoke with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin, they discussed Russia's warning that Ukraine was preparing the use of the so-called "dirty bomb" - an explosive device loaded with radioactive material. Although NATO allies rejected Russia's claims, Moscow reiterated its claim and demanded that the matter be discussed today in a closed session of the UN Security Council. Jens Stoltenberg warned Moscow not to use these false claims as a pretext for escalation. The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was preparing to send inspectors to two locations in Ukraine at Kyiv's request.

Ukraine: Russian inspectors delay 165 grain cargo ships

Kyiv accused Russia of deliberately delaying the arrival from Turkey of more than 165 cargo ships to be loaded with grain.

Russian inspectors are "significantly prolonging the inspection of ships... As a result, more than 165 ships are stuck in a queue near the Bosphorus and their number continues to grow daily," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

"We have reason to believe that the delay in Russian inspections of the Grain Initiative ships is politically motivated," it added.

The vessels are waiting to go through the rigorous inspection process required by a Turkey-UN-backed deal aimed at ensuring Ukrainian grain access to foreign markets and easing fears of a global food crisis.

Since the entry into force of the deal between Russia and Ukraine on August 1, more than 8.5 million metric tons of grain and food products have gone to Europe, the Middle East and to a lesser extent to Africa, according to data from the Joint Coordination Center (JCC), overseeing the agreement.

In a statement, the JCC confirmed the delays, but did not point the finger of blame at either party.

"The Joint Coordination Center is concerned that the delays could lead to disruptions in the supply chain and port operations," it said.

A spokesman for the Istanbul-based center told AFP that more than 170 ships were waiting in the Bosphorus to head to Ukrainian ports to load grain.

"The Joint Center is discussing ways to address the backlog, noting that the next harvest is approaching and silos in Ukrainian ports covered by the initiative will soon be full again," the center said.

''8 months of war. Ukraine breaks the so-called second army in the world. From now on, Russia will be only a pawn''

Today marks exactly eight months since the full-scale war. What has been achieved during this time? We defended our country's independence and Russia cannot change that. Step by step we are liberating Ukrainian land. Donbas, Kharkiv region, Kherson region are now heard. But the Zaporizhzhia region and the Crimea will follow: the time will come and all of Ukraine will be free.”

This was stated by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Facebook in a video message on the occasion of the 8th month since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

"Ukraine is destroying the so-called second army in the world, and from now on Russia will be only a pawn. They (the Russians) are asking for something from Iran, they are trying to wrest something from the Western countries - they invent all kinds of nonsense about Ukraine, intimidate, deceive ...", adds Zelensky.

According to him, Russia will never again be a subject that can dictate something to someone: "It no longer has the potential to dictate. The world sees it. Now the Russian potential is being wasted on this madness - on a war against our country and the entire free world."

"There was gas influence – not anymore. There was military influence - it is evaporating. It had political weight - now it is in the ever-increasing isolation. There was ideological ambition - now it is just disgust," adds the Ukrainian president.

According to him, this is a very important change of configuration: the more of its potential Russia will lose now, the more real freedom all peoples will get, both near and inside Russia. "Ukraine first," he added.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's army said it had pushed Russian forces out of four villages in the country's northeast, where a counteroffensive had already allowed it to retake thousands of square kilometers of territory last month.

"Thanks to the successful operations, our troops pushed the enemy out of the settlements of Karmazinovka, Myasozharovka and Nevsky in the Luhansk region and Novosadovo in the Donetsk region," the Ukrainian General Staff announced on Facebook.

USA: Russia will bear the consequences if it uses a "dirty bomb"

Russia will bear the consequences if it uses a "dirty bomb" or resorts to the use of nuclear weapons, Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, said today, Reuters reported.

The US and other Western countries have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of planning to take more decisive action in Ukraine, using the pretext that Kyiv is preparing to create a "dirty bomb" - a bomb that disperses radioactive material, BTA recalls.

Amid the advance of Ukrainian forces in the Kherson region, senior Russian officials telephoned their Western counterparts to inform them that they suspected Ukraine was planning to use a "dirty bomb".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky counter-accused Russia of planning to carry out a "dirty bomb" attack and then blame it on Ukraine.

Western countries rejected Moscow's claims and characterized them as an attempt to create a pretext for taking even more decisive action by Russian forces in Ukraine.

"If President Putin resorts to the use of the so-called 'dirty bomb', it would certainly be another example of his brutality. There will be consequences for Russia if it uses a 'dirty bomb' or a nuclear weapon. Our position on this issue is very clear," Price told reporters.

The spokesman stressed that it was important for Moscow to know "what serious consequences" it would face if it resorted to the use of a "dirty bomb" or a nuclear weapon.

At the same time, Price said the United States had no information that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons.

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