Ukraine war: Russian defence minister discusses 'uncontrolled escalation' in rare calls with US, UK counterparts

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New Delhi: Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday held rare calls, requested by the Russian side, with NATO counterparts in which they discussed Ukraine, the Russian defence ministry said.

“The situation in Ukraine, which has a steady tendency towards further, uncontrolled escalation, was discussed,” by Shoigu and French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu, the ministry said.

Later on Sunday, the ministry said Shoigu held phone calls with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar and UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

In the three calls, Shoigu conveyed “concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a ‘dirty bomb'”.

A so-called dirty bomb uses conventional explosives laced with radioactive material. Though the defence ministry didn’t provide any information on this bomb it alleged Ukraine could use.

Britain’s defence ministry said in a statement that Wallace “refuted” claims that Western countries sought to help Ukraine escalate the conflict and “cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation”.

It added that the call was requested by the Russian side.

Shoigu also discussed Ukraine on Sunday with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin in their second phone call since Friday, however, the Russian side did not mention the alleged “dirty bomb” provocation in its statement.

Since the explosion on the strategic Kerch Bridge linking Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, with mainland Russia on 8 October this month, Russia has increasingly attacked Ukrainian cities with cruise missiles and drones. Russia has blamed Ukrainian intelligence for the explosion. It has responded with attacks hitting key civilian infrastructure leading to the destruction of over 30 per cent of power plants in the country according to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskky.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has claimed major gains in the war in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson where a Russian outpost west of the River Dnipro has been beleaguered by Ukrainian forces.

The Russian commanders in the area have called upon the local population to evacuate, anticipating a major push by Ukrainian forces. Almost around 15000 people have already left and over 60000 are expected to move in the coming days.

These developments have heightened the fears of an escalation of the war that has already entered its ninth month since its beginning on 24th February 2022.

With inputs from AFP

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Ukraine war: Russian defence minister discusses 'uncontrolled escalation' in rare calls with US, UK counterparts
Ukraine war: Russian defence minister discusses 'uncontrolled escalation' in rare calls with US, UK counterparts
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