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Ukraine updates: IAEA to probe 'dirty bomb' allegations

Published October 28, 2022last updated October 28, 2022

The UN nuclear agency plans to send the experts to Ukraine this week to probe Russia's "dirty bomb" claims. Meanwhile, a Polish general is set to lead the EU training mission for Ukrainian troops. DW has the latest.

Ionizing radiation warning sign in Pripyat city of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Zone of Alienation
The US has said it has seen no sign that Russia or Ukraine were planning to use a 'dirty bomb' Image: Konrad Zelazowski/IMAGO

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said late Thursday it would send an observer mission to Ukraine this week following allegations by Russia that Kyiv is planning to deploy a so-called "dirty bomb" containing radioactive material.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said experts will carry out inspections at two locations in Ukraine "to detect any diversion of nuclear material under safeguards, any undeclared production or processing of nuclear material at the two locations and assure that there are no undeclared nuclear material and activities."

The agency said this followed a request by Ukraine issued in response to Russian claims, without evidence, that Kyiv is working on a bomb with nuclear material. According to the Kremlin, the deployment on Ukrainian territory would be a false flag operation designed to discredit Moscow.

In turn, this has raised fears in the West and Ukraine that Russia might detonate a "dirty bomb" — a conventional explosive device that disperses radioactive material — to blame the Ukrainian side and create a pretext for military escalation, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

The ruse with the dirty bomb: A sign of Putin’s weakness?

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Friday, October 28:

US to provide Ukraine with €275 million extra in military aid

The United States is to give an additional €275 million ($274 million) in military aid to Ukraine, the State Department announced on Friday.

This assistance includes more weapons, ammunition and equipment, as well as four antennas for satellite communications.

A total of €18.5 billion has been provided to Kyiv in military assistance since President Joe Biden came to office in January 2021.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that work is under way to improve Ukraine's air defense.

Millions of Ukrainians without power, says Zelenskyy

Some four million people across Ukraine are being affected by power cuts prompted by Russian air strikes on the country's infrastructure, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"As of this time, many cities and regions of our country use stabilization blackout schedules..." he said in his Friday evening address. "We are doing everything so that the state has the opportunity to reduce such blackouts."

Kyiv tells Tehran to stop sending weapons to Russia, says Ukrainian FM

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, on Friday.

Kuleba asked Tehran to stop sending weapons to Russia, tweeting that he "demanded Iran to immediately cease the flow of weapons to Russia used to kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure in Ukraine" during the phone call.

Iran has repeatedly denied transferring weapons to Moscow, whereas Kyiv and Western nations have accused Russia of using Iranian-manufactured drones in its attack on Ukrainian territory.  

Russia says 'partial mobilization' complete

Russia mobilized 300,000 people to join Moscow's offensive in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

"The task of recruiting 300,000 people has been completed," Shoigu said on Friday.

He said 82,000 of those recruits were deployed to the area of the "special military operation," a euphemism Russia uses to describe its invasion of and continuing war in Ukraine. A further 218,000 recruits were in training.

Putin announced what he called a "partial mobilization," in September saying the measure was needed to protect Russian people from what he said was "the entire war machine of the collective West" in Ukraine. Putin ordered Russian forces to invade Ukraine in February

According to the defense minister, the average age of the recruits is 35 and they include at least 13,000 people who volunteered. Thousands of men have reportedly alsoleft Russia to avoid being drafted to fight in the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine says Kherson 'evacuation' is still underway

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that Russia was still moving citizens from the occupied territory on the right-bank part of the Kherson region. Russian officials had reported that the "evacuation" was complete.

It was also said that Russian troops sacked the region along the way. For example, in the town of Bilozerka, the medical equipment of the local hospital was looted.

The General Staff also said up to 1,000 mobilized Russian soldiers were transferred to the right bank of the Kherson region. They are to be resettled in the homes of local residents who have left these areas.

Kherson is one of four regions in southern Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia following so-called referendums in September.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian air force said it has shot down more than 300 Iranian Shahed-136 "kamikaze'" drones so far. These have become a key weapon in Russia's arsenal during its war in Ukraine and have often been used in the past month to target crucial energy infrastructure.

Russia claims only 3% of exports under grain deal go to poorest countries

Russia said that only 3% of food exported under a  UN-brokered deal to release grain from blockaded Ukrainian ports has gone to the poorest countries, and that Western countries account for half of all shipments.

"The geography of the recipients of these cargoes has turned out to be completely inconsistent with the initially declared humanitarian objectives," it said in a statement.

"Needy states such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan, (and) Afghanistan have received just 3% of food, mostly from the World Food Programme," it said.

Since Russia and Ukraine signed the UN-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative in Turkey on July 22, several millions of tonnes of corn, wheat, sunflower products, barley, rapeseed and soya have been exported from Ukraine.

Russia-installed official says Kherson civilian 'evacuations' completed

The head of Moscow-annexed Crimea has said the movement of civilians from occupied Kherson by Russia's forces amid a Ukrainian counter-offensive were "completed," after he visited the region with the Kremlin's domestic chief Sergei Kiriyenko.

"The work to organise residents leaving the left side of the Dnieper (river) to safe regions of Russia is completed," Sergei Aksyonov said.

Kherson is one of four regions in southern Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia following so-called referendums in September.

Ukrainian forces are surrounding Kherson from the west and attacking Russia's foothold on the west bank of the Dnipro River, which divides the region and the country.

Russian forces transitioned to defensive posture in Ukraine — UK Defense Ministry

In the last six weeks, there has been a clear move from Russian ground forces to transition to a long-term, defensive posture on most areas of the front line in Ukraine, according to the latest UK defense intelligence update.

"This is likely due to a more realistic assessment that the severely undermanned, poorly trained force in Ukraine is currently only capable of defensive operations," the update read.

The UK Defense Ministry also said that even if Russia succeeds in consolidating long-term defensive lines in Ukraine, its operational design will remain vulnerable.

Polish general to lead EU training mission for Ukrainian troops

Polish General Piotr Trytek has been appointed to lead a European Union mission to train Ukrainian troops, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said.

The bloc agreed earlier this month to set up the Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine), which aims to boost the country's military capability.

"Polish officer, Gen. Piotr Trytek ... will lead the international military training mission for the Ukrainian army," Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter. "It is a huge responsibility, but also recognition of Poland's position in the international arena."

EUMAM Ukraine will be headquartered in Brussels with operational command centers in Poland and Germany. Most training will take place in Poland.

Turkish drone maker to build plant in Ukraine within two years

Turkish defense company Baykar is planning to complete the construction of a manufacturing plant in Ukraine in two years, its chief executive Haluk Bayraktar said. The company has gained a good reputation for its drones' success in thwarting Russian forces.

The company also hopes to "soon" be able to counter "kamikaze" drones in Ukraine, such as the Russian-operated Iranian drones that have been threatening critical infrastructure.

"Soon our Bayraktar TB2 and Akincis will have air-to-air missiles; not only to engage drones but other enemy aircraft ... we are doing our tests," Bayraktar said.

The aerial drones supplied to Ukraine by Baykar were instrumental in the defense against Russian armor and anti-aircraft systems in the first few weeks of the Russian invasion.

As part of an agreement between Turkey and Ukraine, signed just before Russia's February 24 invasion, Baykar had agreed to build its second manufacturing plant in Ukraine.

Biden says Putin's talk of nuclear weapons is 'dangerous'

US President Joe Biden expressed skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin's comment that he had no intention of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

Putin, in a speech on Thursday, played down a nuclear standoff with the West, insisting Russia had not threatened to use nuclear weapons and had only responded to nuclear "blackmail" from Western leaders.

"If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it? Why is he talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?" Biden said in an interview with NewsNation.

"He's been very dangerous in how he's approached this," Biden said.

Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that Russia could use nuclear weapons to protect its territorial integrity, remarks interpreted in the West as implicit threats to use them to defend parts of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed.

More DW content on the war in Ukraine

Hundreds of Ukrainian cultural sites have been affected by the Russian invasion. UNESCO is using satellite imagery to keep track and prepare recovery.

dh/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)