One of Putin’s closest aides has been mocked after he claimed that a deadly radioactive cloud was making its way across Europe. Nikolai Patrushev alleged the noxious cloud was drifting west from Ukraine after Russian soldiers hit an arms depot containing depleted uranium ammunition supplied by the UK Government. After Russian state media republished the baseless claim, experts joked that the former KGB officer had clearly “forgotten to put his glasses on” as the depleted nature of the ammunition precluded a radioactive reaction.
Patrushev suggested a depot in Khmelnytskyi, western Ukraine, roughly 150 miles from the city of Lviv near the Polish border, had been hit by a Russian strike last week.
He said flames erupted high into the sky as a result of the shelling and a fiery mushroom cloud rose from the damaged facility following the hit.
But after declaring Poland had already seen soaring levels of radiation following the strike, Patrushev was quickly shut down by experts who described the claims as propaganda.
“Their destruction caused a radioactive cloud now moving towards Western Europe,” Patrushev’s statement said. “And Poland has already recorded an increase in radiation.”
Russian state TV’s Channel One, republishing the claims, said: “A column of smoke from the explosion rose several hundred metres and a prolonged detonation followed. Then there was a rise in radioactivity in the area.”
Ukrainian publication Ukrinform responded to the claims reporting that experts from Khmelnytskyi National University had “debunked Russian fakes about an increase in radiation levels in the city following the attack by Russian forces on the night of 13 May”.
“Previously, Russian propaganda began spreading information on social media and news channels about an increased radiation background in Khmelnytskyi, allegedly caused by an explosion damaging either low-enriched uranium shells or components of a bomb sent to Ukraine,” they wrote.
A statement from the university read: “There is no reason to be concerned.”
In Lublin, Poland, the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University said a supposed rise in radioactivity in the country was a natural phenomenon linked to rainfall. A spike in bismuth was caused by precipitation.
Independent Russian journalist Ilya Shepelin said: “At its peak, on Monday, it was….five million times lower than a life-threatening dose.”
The Procurator Telegram channel ridiculed the Russian official as a candidate for “a medal in the field of nuclear physics”.
They wrote: “Perhaps Patrushev forgot to put his glasses on, and did not see that the uranium was depleted, and therefore there was no way a radioactive cloud could come out of it.
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“The Europeans will not even notice this nightmarish threat, just like the infamous freezing [from halted gas supplies] in winter.”
Patrushev, during a meeting in Syktyvkar, also claimed that the US was “developing and already using chemical and biological weapons, including in Ukraine”, though he provided no evidence.
He said: “So that’s what American aid and democracy is all about.” The use of these weapons is banned by the Geneva Convention.
There is no evidence to suggest that the US or Ukraine have engaged in chemical warfare. Multiple videos from Mariupol, however, intimate Russia may have used such weapons in a bid to force the Azov Battalion to abandon the Azovstal steel plant last May.
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