Disinfo: Kyiv passed from rejecting nuclear weapons to preparing a dirty bomb


In February 2022, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a speech in the Munich Security Conference in which he announced that he would start consultations about the Budapest memorandum and pointed that Ukraine could revoke its status as a country without nuclear weapons.

Weeks later, in March 2022, Russian intelligence announced that it had information that Kyiv was actively working on a nuclear weapon.

In October, the Russian army declared that it had intel on Ukrainian and British contacts to acquire nuclear weapons technology, while Russian defence minister accused Kyiv of “planning a provocation with the detonation of a so-called ‘dirty bomb’”.


This is a mix of several recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, part of a wider disinformation campaign whose ultimate goal is to present Ukraine as a threat to Russia and therefore justify Russia’s unprovoked aggression against its peaceful neighbour.

Moscow violated the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, through which Ukraine agreed to turn its USSR-inherited nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from signatory countries, one of which was Russia, later turned into aggressor. Russian officials and propaganda have deliberately distorted president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech at the Munich Security Conference to portray him as threatening to acquire nuclear weapons, when he actually meant that the Budapest Memorandum would be null if the security guarantors failed to protect Ukraine.

None of the claims made by Russia about Ukraine’s plans to acquire or detonate a nuclear artifact have been backed by any evidence, and some of them have been positively proven as false.

For example, pictures presented by the Russian Foreign Ministry to illustrate allegations about Ukraine’s ‘dirty bomb’ were actually from 2010 and originally posted by the Slovenian Radioactive Waste Agency, and therefore totally unrelated to the current situation.

Western leaders have rejected Russia's 'dirty bomb' claim, and EU High Representative Josep Borrell dismissed the allegations as false. In addition, diplomats from France, Britain and the United States called Russia’s allegation a pretext that Moscow has developed for escalating the war. However, pro-Kremlin outlets continue amplifying this unproven claim, since repeating previous baseless allegations as established facts while introducing minor variations is a frequent pro-Kremlin disinformation technique.

See other examples of similar disinformation narratives, such as claims that Ukraine is going to use a dirty bomb to accuse Russia of using tactical nuclear weapons, that Ukraine asked NATO for preemptive nuclear strikes against Russia, that Ukraine wanted to acquire nuclear weapons because of American pressure, or that Zelenskyy is pushing the world towards a nuclear war.


  • Reported in: Issue 326
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/01/2023
  • Article language(s) Spanish
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Ukraine, Russia, US, EU
  • Keywords: Nuclear issues, Budapest memorandum, Invasion of Ukraine, War in Ukraine, Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky
see more

Disinfo: The West and Kyiv are responsible for the Ukrainian deaths in Bakhmut

The Bakhmut slaughter was predictable. The Ukrainians waited for help from the West which never arrived. [It was] a real massacre, with huge losses on the Ukrainian side.

Unfortunately, the Kyiv government preferred to let the majority of its soldiers die in a slaughter.


Recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about the large losses of Ukrainian army, allegedly because of lack of European support.

The important level of losses in Bakhmut is partially true, but Russia is the only one responsible for those deaths. The argument that Europeans did not provide enough defensive military equipment to sustain massive Russian assaults, and therefore that Russian responsibility for the deaths could be transferred to European is specious. Just like the argument that Kyiv is responsible for the destruction of the country because it resists the Russian invasion as stated Sergey Lavrov in May 2022, this is wrong.

Disinfo: Russia hits only military targets in Ukraine

The Russian armed forces do not strike at residential buildings or social infrastructure facilities. Only military targets – whether obvious or camouflaged – are being hit.


This is a recurring disinformation narrative from pro-Kremlin outlets claiming that Russian troops do not hit civilian objects and accusing Ukrainian troops of doing so.

In reality, there are numerous cases of Russian troops hitting residential buildings and civilian facilities. Russian forces regularly strike at civilian objects in Ukraine, killing and wounding dozens of people. On 14 January 2023, at least 40 people were killed and 76 were wounded in a Russian missile attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro when an apartment building was hit. According to spokesman of Ukraine's Air Force Yuri Ihnat, a Russian Kh-22 missile hit the building. 72 flats were destroyed and more than 230 flats were damaged in the attack. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) published the names of some Russian servicemen involved in the attack.

Disinfo: A French witness proved that the crimes in Bucha were organised by Ukraine

In the spring of 2022, Adrien Bocquet arrived in Ukraine on a humanitarian mission as a volunteer. Following his trip, he said he witnessed numerous war crimes committed by the Kyiv armed forces. The Frenchman claims to have witnessed the preparation of a staging of the massacre of civilians in Bucha by the Ukrainian side.


Recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about staged imaginary war crimes fabricated by Ukraine to damage Russia's reputation.

Adrien Bocquet, expressed in autumn 2022 his desire to receive Russian citizenship and in the winter of 2022 he applied for political asylum. In France he made strong declarations about so-called "staged war crimes" in Bucha that were proved to be completely fabricated when fact-checked. Journalists also proved that many stories about his trip to Ukraine and his past were also the result of his fruitful imagination, he also photoshopped pictures to support his (mis)representation of events.