Russia justifies its invasion of Ukraine by designing threats allegedly coming from Ukraine: for example, the plotted attack on Donbas, existence of biological weapon labs supervised by the U.S. At this stage, the claim that Ukraine is developing and preparing to use a so-called “dirty bomb” is gaining momentum.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Syromolotov said that “nationalists brought into Ukraine nuclear materials, which they can now use to detonate a ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb.” This is a new stage of propaganda, pointing to the fact that Russia’s leading government officials are becoming its mouthpieces. Anti-Ukrainian propaganda in Russia is reaching its climax.
Russians have no evidence to back their claims, so they practice classic clichés of lies and double standards. Allegations about the likely development of nuclear weapons by Ukraine are aimed primarily at the national audience, which is massively inclined to believe such propaganda. In this case, they don’t need to present any evidence as a statement, voiced by a high-ranking officials is supposed to be trustworthy a priori.
Russian propaganda is building up the following sequence of accents: “Many Western leaders are now visiting Ukraine (all of them hostile to Russia), supplying the county with information and materials necessary for production of nuclear weapons that will be used against Russians or Russian-speakers in Ukraine.” This design is more than enough to influence most average Russians to convince them of the existing threat.
Speculation about nuclear weapons is also due to the disrupted covert mobilization, which foiled Russia’s plans. They need a powerful tool to influence public opinion so the thesis about nuclear weapons being developed in Ukraine became precisely such a tool.
Russia uses this factor to legitimize the capture of the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, where Russia claims Ukraine had been developing nuclear arms. The message will also be targeting the national audience. It conveniently serves to explain to the Russians why their soldiers were previously deployed at the Chornobyl NPP and the highly hazardous Exclusion Zone around it. This will become particularly relevant if radiation sickness and other health issues will develop in those military servicemen, which will affect public moods.
Russia uses a typical Soviet propaganda practice: twisting the facts. In particular, the Kremlin interprets Zelensky’s words that Ukraine could theoretically become a nuclear power as a firm intention to create nuclear weapons and use them against Russia.
In the coming days, this narrative is expected to be widely pushed in the Russian media space. It will be used to further strengthen the image of Ukraine as a country hostile to Russia. Therefore, the Kremlin propaganda will say that the “special operation” is designed to fix the problem and save the Russians. The West will be portrayed as a highly hostile actor, supplying Ukraine with everything necessary for anti-Russian activities.
This thesis will be spun across the most popular platforms: Telegram channels and government-run media. The Kremlin seeks to convey the narrative to the widest-possible audience, continue to exploit speculation, and expand the allegation with new sham “evidence.”