Russia accuses Ukraine of preparing 'nuclear provocations'

Russia on Wednesday accused Ukraine of preparing "nuclear provocations," claiming radioactive material was delivered to the Ukrainian ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk.

"On Feb.16, containers with radioactive substances and English-language labeling were delivered from the territory of one of the European states to the port of Chornomorsk (Odesa region), bypassing customs inspection," the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on the ministry's website, citing Ukrainian media.

"On Feb.19, similar containers containing the radioactive substance 'Californium-252' ... actively used in checking the integrity of nuclear reactors of nuclear power plants, were delivered to the port of Odesa on one of the bulk carriers."

According to Zakharova, radioactive monitoring system was disabled at the time of the cargo's handling.

"As a result of a journalistic investigation, it was established that the supplier of this radioactive substance is the American company Frontier Technology Corp., engaged in the production of containers for radioactive isotopes, especially neutron radiation sources," she said.

The spokeswoman quoted Ukrainian bloggers as voicing concern over a possibility of delivery of components for ammunition modification and "even manufacturing a dirty bomb."

Zakharova recalled the Russian Defense Ministry's earlier warnings that Ukraine was preparing nuclear provocations aimed at accusing Moscow of strikes at radiation-hazardous objects that may lead to the leak of radioactive substances and contamination of the area.

The diplomat said the information about possible nuclear provocations resonated among Ukrainians and residents of neighboring countries of Eastern Europe.

"It cannot but cause concern that such events are taking place in the immediate vicinity of Transnistria, around which the Kyiv regime is deliberately escalating tensions.

"We should also not forget that the mentioned ports of Ukraine are involved in the 'grain deal'. The question involuntarily arises, are these harbors and the humanitarian corridor in general being used for some other purposes?" she questioned.

Zakharova noted that the Ukrainian authorities do not comment on the information, alleging that this may mean that Kyiv "is ready to use any excuse to escalate the conflict in order to receive military and financial assistance from the West."

"He (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy) does not care that such adventures can lead to catastrophic consequences and mass death of people," she stressed.

Zakharova called on relevant international bodies to pay close attention to the information about possible provocations with nuclear materials and warned Kyiv against "reckless actions, putting in danger lives and health of thousands of civilians."

'Fake news'

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko called Zakharova's statement as "fake news."

He wrote on Telegram that "Ukraine is strictly committed to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," urging "not to be misled by Russian propaganda," saying Moscow plans such things itself.

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