MOSCOW — The Kremlin has insisted that its warning of a purported Ukrainian plan to use a “dirty bomb” radioactive device should be taken seriously, and criticized the West for shrugging it off.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Western dismissal of the Russian warning is “unacceptable in view of the seriousness of the danger that we have talked about.”

Speaking in Tuesday’s conference call with reporters, Peskov added that “we again emphasize the grave danger posed by the plans hatched by the Ukrainians.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his British, French, Turkish and U.S. counterparts Sunday that Ukrainian forces were preparing a “provocation” involving a radioactive device — a so-called dirty bomb. Britain, France, and the United States rejected that claim as “transparently false.”

A dirty bomb uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste in an effort to sow terror. Such weapons don’t cause the devastating destruction of a nuclear explosion, but could expose broad areas to radioactive contamination.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

– ‘They took my big love’: Ukraine woman searches for answers

– German president visits Kyiv as West mulls rebuilding plan

– EU energy ministers seek way forward for more energy unity

– Germany, EU launch work on ‘new Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine

– EXPLAINER: Dirty bombs sow fear and panic, cause few deaths

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

BERLIN — Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says Europe needs to build a new, strong security architecture in the political and economic spheres if it wants to prevail over Russia.

“Europe is much stronger than Russia, but the fact that it hasn’t been able to stop (Russian President Vladimir) Putin yet only proves that it is to some extent, or it was, a paper tiger,” Morawiecki said.

He spoke Tuesday at a conference of leaders and experts discussing a “new Marshall Plan” for the rebuilding of Ukraine.

Morawiecki added that if Europe does not win the war “we risk more than just losing Ukraine and its security, we risk marginalizing the entire continent.” He said that “it is our ‘to be or not to be’ moment.”

Morawiecki also said Russia should pay Ukraine war reparations. The Russian Federation assets and those of its oligarchs frozen around the globe are a “huge pot of gold to be taken and dedicated for Ukraine’s reconstruction,” he said.

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KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company says while Moscow has accused Kyiv of preparing to detonate a dirty bomb, the opposite may be true.

The Energoatom company said Tuesday that Russia’s military has carried out unauthorized work at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. The secret construction work is going on at the dry spent fuel storage facility and could trigger a nuclear incident, the statement said.

There are 174 containers at the facility, each of which contains 24 assemblies of spent nuclear fuel, said Energoatom. Destruction of these containers as a result of an explosion would lead to a radiation accident and radiation contamination of several hundred square kilometers of the adjacent territory, it added.

The company called on the U.N. atomic agency to “assess provocative and threatening actions and statements of the Russian side as soon as possible.”

A dirty bomb uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste in an effort to sow terror. Such weapons don’t have the devastating destruction of a nuclear explosion but could expose broad areas to radioactive contamination.

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BERLIN — Ukraine’s prime minister says his country still needs more weapons and ammunition to win the war against Russia.

Denys Shmyhal told reporters at a conference on Ukraine’s reconstruction in Berlin on Tuesday that Kyiv has received good support so far with weapons and training of soldiers.

But he said: “We need more weaponry, we need more ammunition to win this war.”

Shmyhal added that “we need tanks from our partners, from all of our partners; we need heavy armored vehicles, we need additional artillery units, howitzers.”

Ukraine and its allies have been coordinating military assistance in the so-called “Ramstein format,” named after the U.S. air base in Germany where a first meeting on the issue was held earlier this year.

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KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian official says that Ukrainian guerrillas have staged several explosions in a Russia-held southern city.

Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the city of Melitopol who is now in Ukraine-controlled territory after spending time in Russian captivity, said that a car bomb exploded Tuesday near an office building that houses the headquarters of the Federal Security Service, Russia’s top security agency, and a local television company.

The Moscow-appointed administration in Melitopol said five people were injured by the explosion.

Fedorov said that Ukrainian resistance fighters also staged seven other explosions in the city overnight.

Melitopol is in the Zaporizhzhia region, part of which was captured by the Russian military early in the invasion. It was annexed by Russia last month along with three other regions of Ukraine.

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin-backed head of the Russian region of Chechnya has called for wiping out entire cities in Ukraine in retaliation for Ukrainian shelling of Russia’s territory.

Authorities in Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions that border Ukraine have repeatedly reported Ukrainian shelling that damaged infrastructure and residential buildings.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the regional leader of Chechnya, previously sent troops from the region to fight in Ukraine. He said Tuesday that Russia’s response to the alleged Ukrainian attacks has been too subdued.

“Our response has been too weak,” Kadyrov said in a statement posted on his messaging app channel. “If a shell flies into our region, entire cities must be wiped off the face of the Earth so that they don’t ever think that they can fire in our direction.”

Kadyrov has repeatedly made hawkish statements urging the Kremlin to intensify the war in Ukraine.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential office said Tuesday that at least seven civilians have been killed and three others have been wounded in the latest Russian shelling of the eastern Donetsk region.

The attacks came as the Russians pressed their offensive on the strategically placed towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka and also shelled other areas in the Donetsk region, which is part of Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbas.

As part of its attacks over the past 24 hours, the Russian military also again struck the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets facing the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant across the Dnieper, damaging residential buildings, a factory and water supply network.

In the Mykolaiv region, Russian shelling damaged residential buildings and a kindergarten.

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BERLIN — German and European Union leaders have gathered experts in Berlin to start work on a “new Marshall plan” for the rebuilding of Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that the aim is to discuss “how to ensure and how to sustain the financing of the recovery, reconstruction and modernization of Ukraine for years and decades to come.”

Scholz, who co-hosted the meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said he’s looking for “nothing less than creating a new Marshall plan for the 21st century — a generational task that must begin now.” That was a reference to the U.S.-sponsored plan that helped revive Western European economies after World War II.

Von der Leyen said the World Bank puts the cost of damage to Ukraine so far at 350 billion euros ($345 billion).

She said that, in addition to longer-term help, “Ukraine needs fast rehabilitation right now as we speak” as Russia targets Ukrainian electricity and other infrastructure ahead of the onset of the winter. She called those “pure acts of terror.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that point in a video address from Kyiv. He said that Ukraine has a $17 billion “fast recovery” plan to repair damage to hospitals, schools, transport and energy infrastructure among other things, but “as of now we haven’t received a single cent for the implementation of the fast recovery plan.”

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said Tuesday that “the messages from the Russian leadership indicate that Russia is steering toward a long-term break with the West.”

“An isolated Russia is bad news,” Gahr Støre said. “It is disturbing that today there is so little contact and direct communication with Russia. It weakens the possibility of finding a negotiated end to the war.”

In a speech to the Norwegian parliament, Gahr Støre said that after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 28, “we clearly see how much is at stake.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin “takes high risks. And the willingness to take risks seems to increase in line with bad news from the battlefield,” he said. “We are now in the most demanding security political situation since World War II.”

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BERLIN — Germany’s president has arrived in Kyiv for his first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began eight months ago.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after arriving Tuesday that “it was important to me in this phase of air attacks with drones, cruise missiles and rockets to send a signal of solidarity to Ukrainians,” German news agency dpa reported.

Steinmeier plans to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his visit.

The German president, whose position is largely ceremonial, made it to Ukraine at his third attempt.

In April, he hoped to visit with his Polish and Baltic counterparts, but said his presence “apparently … wasn’t wanted in Kyiv.” Steinmeier has been criticized in Ukraine for allegedly cozying up to Russia during his time as foreign minister.

Last week, a planned trip was put off because of security concerns.

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