Ukrainian forces continued their advance against the Russian military in the southern Kherson region Tuesday, pushed back Russian mercenaries from Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk, and gained new momentum in Luhansk, where they seized a key highway between the towns of Kreminna and Svatove.
On a day of heavy fighting and fast-moving developments across multiple combat zones, the Ukrainians appeared to extend their recent successes in recapturing occupied territories and pushing Moscow’s troops into retreat in areas that President Vladimir Putin has claimed now belong to Russia.
Away from the battlefield, the Kremlin continued to push a claim, asserted repeatedly without evidence, that Kyiv was preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” a weapon that combines conventional explosives with radioactive material — an accusation that was dismissed by the United States and other Western nations.
U.S. officials said that Moscow’s allegations raised a risk that Russia itself was planning to carry out a radiation attack, potentially as a pretext to justify further escalation of the war amid its continuing territorial setbacks.
In a statement Tuesday, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, Energoatom, issued a similar warning, citing the Russian military’s control over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar. “Energoatom assumes that such actions of the occupiers may indicate that they are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored at the ZNPP site,” the statement said.
The renewed fears of some kind of radiation attack added to the ominous sense that Putin’s war in Ukraine is growing even more deadly and dangerous as each side seeks to redraw facts on the ground before winter. [Continue reading…]