PM Modi’s outreach to Putin helped prevent ‘potential nuclear attack’ on Ukraine in 2022: Report

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s outreach to Russian President Vladimir Putin helped prevent a ‘potential nuclear attack’ on Ukraine in 2022, CNN reported on Saturday.

In late 2022, the US began preparing for Russia potentially striking Ukraine with a nuclear weapon, in what would have been the first nuclear attack in war since the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two senior administration officials told CNN.

They said the Biden administration was specifically concerned Russia might use a tactical or battlefield nuclear weapon.

The fear about Russia’s move began after Moscow claimed that Ukraine might use the dirty bomb, a claim that US officials suspected could be used as cover for a Russian nuclear attack.

In October 2022, Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu made a series of phone calls to defense officials in the US, the UK, France, and Turkey, telling them that the Kremlin was “concerned about possible provocations by Kyiv involving the use of a dirty bomb.”

CNN reported that US officials dismissed the Russian warnings but feared the motivation behind them.

“Russian public messaging came way out of the left field on the potential for Ukraine to use a dirty bomb, which we saw not grounded in reality,” the first senior administration official told CNN.

“More concerning” to this official was that the Russians would say these things “either as a pretext for them to do something crazy or as a cover for something they themselves were looking at doing.

So that was quite alarming.”

The report said that the US worked closely with its allies both to develop contingency plans for a Russian nuclear attack and to communicate warnings to the Russian side about the consequences of such a strike.

Washington also sought to enlist the help of non-allies, in particular, China and India, to discourage Russia from such an attack.

According to CNN, US officials said that outreach and public statements from Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi helped avert a crisis.

“I think the fact that we know China weighed in, India weighed in, others weighed in, may have had some effect on their thinking,” a senior administration official told CNN.

“I can’t demonstrate this positively, but I think that’s our assessment.”

Interestingly, it was in September 2022, when PM Modi told Putin that today’s era was not of war.

“I know that today’s era is not of war and we have talked to you many times over the phone on the subject that democracy and diplomacy and dialogue are all these things that touch the world,” PM Modi had told Putin during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Uzbekistan.

“We will definitely get a chance to discuss how we can move onto the path of peace in the coming days, I will also get an opportunity to understand your point of view,” he had said.

India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had also cautioned Moscow about the nuclear attack. In a statement on October 26, Rajnath Singh held a telephonic conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. Shoigu briefed Singh on the situation in Ukraine, including his concerns about “possible provocations through use of “dirty bomb’.”

Singh said: “The nuclear option should not be resorted to by any side as the prospect of the usage of nuclear or radiological weapons goes against the basic tenets of humanity.”