Russia Responds Angrily To UK’s Sending Rounds To Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted the U.K. plan to send depleted uranium anti-tank rounds to Ukraine along with battle tanks it is shipping to the war-torn country.
Along with the U.K. announcement, the European Union is shipping one million artillery shells to Kyiv — at a cost of two billion euros. That measure was approved by the European Defense Agency after months of sometimes contentious negotiations.
But it was the depleted uranium anti-tank rounds that sparked Putin’s anger. Speaking after a meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, the Russian president said that “if all this happens, Russia will have to respond accordingly.”
Putin added that “the West is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component.”
Political leaders in the U.K., however, insisted that the phrase “nuclear component” is simply Moscow’s way of relaying a misleading impression that nuclear weapons are being sent to Kyiv. The U.K. and U.S. consider these depleted rounds to be safe.
Both assert that they do not pose a radiation threat either during use or in the aftermath. Experts note that American M1 Abrams tanks use depleted uranium in their armor as the metal offers strong protection for the military vehicles.
Besides insisting that the metals are safe, British authorities countered Russian statements by saying there is no nuclear escalation in the conflict.
Russia feels differently and has for quite some time. The Kremlin long scolded NATO for the use of these shells in Kosovo and Serbia during its “peace-keeping” actions in the 1990s.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu proclaimed, “There were consequences. There were consequences for the health of those who used those munitions.
He added, “There were serious health conditions, and they were studied.” Russia, however, charged that the effects on those they were used against were not considered. And the Russian embassy in London took their protest a step further.
Diplomats reportedly told the British government that providing depleted uranium shells to Ukrainian forces to be used against Russian troops risks “further escalation.” The embassy said that “radioactivity, high toxicity and carcinogenicity of such weapons are well-known.”