VILNIUS – Moscow's claims that Ukraine is in the "final stages" of developing a "dirty bomb" have to be taken very seriously, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Tuesday.
He was commenting on the allegations made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during phone calls to his counterparts from several NATO countries.
"It is very reminiscent of Russia's statements in the run-up to February 24 [...], when false information was being spread about allegedly existing chemical plants in Ukraine," Landsbergis told LRT Radio.
"Some partners took this seriously, but not all of them," the minister said. "We thought this was just a campaign of lies by Russia, but we see what it has turned into."
"There are the same repercussions now, and I believe they have to be taken very seriously," Lithuania's top diplomat said.
"I am very pleased with NATO partners' joint statement saying that we will not give in to lies, that we will continue to help Ukraine and that no one believes the information being spread by Russia," he said.
The term "dirty bomb" usually refers to a conventional bomb with radioactive, biological or chemical materials that are disseminated in an explosion.
The United States, the United Kingdom dismissed Russia's claims in a joint statement on Sunday, as did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to Landsbergis, partner countries must be prepared for an escalation of the situation and continue to step up their support for Ukraine.
"Could this mean that Russia will escalate it further? I think we need to be prepared for a possible escalation despite Shoigu's calls," he told the radio station.
"Russia is losing the war and may escalate it in the stage of defeat, but our response must be one of more assistance to Ukraine."