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Russian Defense Ministry passes off Russian R&D photos as Ukrainian “dirty bomb” evidence

The Russian Defense Ministry recounted on its Telegram channel a briefing by Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, head of the Russian Armed Forces' radiation, chemical and biological defense troops, who, like many other Russian officials, claims that Kyiv had commissioned Ukrainian scientists to create a so-called dirty bomb in order to stage a provocation of which Russia could be accused. Kirillov supplied photos that were intended to confirm his allegations.

The photos drew the attention of Benjamin Strick, director of investigations at the Center for Information Sustainability, and Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat, who analyzed the general's “evidence” and came to the conclusion that most of the photos actually illustrate Russian scientific papers.

Two photos are said to depict “research reactors”, which are allegedly in the possession of Ukraine. But one of the photos shows the Kurchatov Nuclear Power Plant in Beloyarsk, Sverdlovsk Region, and the other one Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant which specializes in the production of nuclear fuel for power generating and research reactors.

But that's not all. The photo which purports to depict the “Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology, Institute of Nuclear Research at the National Academy of Sciences in Kyiv, Uragan thermonuclear units, BBP-M reactor”, shows instead the Russian PIK reactor installed at the Kostantinov Institute of Nuclear Physics in St. Petersburg. This picture shows the exact moment when Vladimir Putin personally launched the reactor via a video link.

There is another photograph, which shows radioactive waste. When the Foreign Ministry of Russia decided to support its colleagues from the Defense Ministry and published this piece of “evidence” on its Twitter, the post came to the attention of the Slovenian government, which recognized the picture its Agency for Radioactive Waste Management took in 2010.

“Radioactive waste in Slovenia is stored safely and is under supervision. It is not used for making of any dirty bombs,” the country's government said on Twitter.

Moreover, the Russian Defense Ministry used exactly the same photos that had been last used by the Russian media to accuse the White Helmets of staging the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack. That time it turned out that the photos had been taken during a movie shoot.

Finally, one of the photos, captioned “Panic amongst citizens and increase in the flow of refugees,” depicts the aftermath of the September 11 attack.

Another photo shows the forced displacement of Syrian civilians from Damascus countryside by Russian troops.

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