Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (L) (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

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Monday’s Coverage: Russia’s “Dirty Bomb” Desperation

Source: CNN


The investigative sites Bellingcat, The Insider, and Der Spiegel have identified the Russian military engineers behind the missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and civilian sites.

The group works from Defense Ministry headquarters in Moscow and the Admiralty headquarters in St. Petersburg. It is within the “Main Computation Center of the General Staff”.

Some of the members also worked at Russia’s military command center in Damascus in the period between 2016 and 2021, as Russian strikes killed thousands of Syrian civilians.


As expected, a Moscow court has rejected the appeal of US basketball star Brittney Griner against her nine-year prison sentence for possession of cannabis oil.

Griner was seized at a Moscow airport on February 17, a week before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reacted to “another sham judicial proceeding”: “President Biden has been clear that Brittney should be released immediately.”


Fifteen Russian strikes across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine have killed seven civilians and wounded three.

The attacks destroyed 19 residential buildings and one power line.


President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has reiterated to European leaders in Berlin that more than 1/3 of Ukraine’s energy sector has been destroyed by Russian missile and drone strikes.

However, Kyiv has not received any of the $17 billion in funds that the European Commission and World Bank determined are needed for the first stage of recovery.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the conference with the message, “We need to firmly embed Ukraine’s reconstruction as part of its accession process to the European Union.”


Amid Russia’s use of Iranian-supplied “kamikaze” drones to attack Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians, Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has issued the curious statement, “If it is proven to us that Iranian drones are being used in the Ukraine war against people, we should not remain indifferent.”

It is not clear if Amir-Abdollahian’s statement is a signal that Iran is backing away from its provision of hundreds — possibly thousands — of drones, or if it is just a continuation of the regime’s disinformation about its military support of Moscow.

Throughout Russia’s escalation of missile and drone attacks this month, Iranian officials including the Foreign Minister have repeatedly lied that Tehran sent no weapons.

At the same time, Iranian officials privately confirmed preparations to despatch surface-to-surface missiles to the Russians, and Western intelligence agencies assessed that Revolutionary Guards are in Crimea to train the Russian forces in the use of the drones.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani maintained on Monday, “We do not export weapons to either side of the war in Ukraine and our relations with both sides of the war have been friendly.”


A car has exploded near the office of Russian propaganda channel ZaTV in occupied Melitopol in southern Ukraine.

At least five people are injured.


UK military intelligence notes that Russia has lost more than 25% of its Ka-52 Hokum attack helicopters during Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Of the Russian Air Force’s 90 Ka-52s, at least 23 have been knocked out of service.

The UK analysts summarize, “Russia is still failing to maintain adequate air superiority in order to reliably carry out effective fixed wing close air support near the front line, and its artillery ammunition is running low.”


The World Bank has delivered an additional $500 million for the Zelenskiy Government to finance essential services.

The funding by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development is supported by $500m in loan guarantees from the UK.

World Bank President David Malpass said:

The Russian invasion continues to cause massive destruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure – including water, sanitation, and electricity networks – just as winter is approaching, further endangering Ukrainian people.

The new portion of financing disbursed today will be used to maintain essential government services. We stand firmly to support the Ukrainian people as they face this unparalleled crisis.


Russia’s “dirty bomb” stunt has succeeded in taking over the news cycle, obscuring the Ukrainian advance in the Kherson region in the south — but it is failing to alter the reality of the Kremlin’s difficulties.

Russia’s missile and drone strikes to break Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilians is ebbing, two weeks after they escalated. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on Monday that Russian forces conducted only 2 missile and 28 air strikes, and that Ukrainian forces shot down 16 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones on Sunday.

The head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, said the impact of the strikes — which had knocked out almost 1/3 of Ukraine’s power plants — is waning as the Russians deplete a limited supply of cruise missiles and as Ukrainian air defenses down about 70% of the drones.

The Institute for the Study of War assesses, “The slower tempo of Russian air, missile, and drone strikes possibly reflects decreasing missile and drone stockpiles and the strikes’ limited effectiveness of accomplishing Russian strategic military goals.”

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s “dirty bomb” disinformation trying to break international support for Ukraine — as a Ukrainian counter-offensive advances in the south — has fallen apart within 48 hours.

Russian Defense Sergey Shoygu spent the weekend telling US, British, French, and Turkish counterparts that Ukraine was planning to deploy a bomb laced with radioactive material.

But he provided no support for the claim, and the US-British-French trio quickly put out a joint statement that called out Moscow’s ploy:

Our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.

Russia suffered further embarrassment on Monday when a presentation by the head of Russia’s nuclear, chemical, and biological forces was quickly exposed for compounding the lie.

The very first slide that Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov used was not from Ukraine. It was from Syria several years ago — and it was not from a weapons facility but from an Assad regime disinformation film.

IAEA to Visit Ukrainian Sites

Kyiv also repelled the Russian disinformation. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy summarized, “If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency then took up The Government’s invitation to inspect two sites. Director General Rafael Grossi pointedly noted:

The IAEA inspected one of these locations one month ago and all our findings were consistent with Ukraine’s safeguards declarations.

No undeclared nuclear activities or material were found there.

Russian State media said the two sites are the Eastern Mineral Enrichment Plant in the south-central Dnipropetrovsk region and the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv.