Russia to strongly react if UK sends uranium depleted ammunition to Ukrainian army

As reported by several sources, the UK is planning to send armour-piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium (DU) to Ukraine, for use with the Challenger 2 tank squadron donated by the British army. As reported by Declassified UK, British Defence minister Baroness Goldie made the admission on 20th March, in response to a written parliamentary question from crossbench peer Lord Hylton. Goldie said: “Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armoured vehicles”. Russia has previously warned it would regard the use of depleted uranium in Ukraine as a ‘dirty bomb’.
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The British army is donating 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. They might be supplied with uranium-depleted (DU) armour-piercing shells (Picture source: Si Longworth/British MOD)

Kremlin official Konstantin Gavrilov said in January: “If Kyiv is supplied with such shells for NATO heavy military equipment, we will consider this as the use of dirty nuclear bombs against Russia with all the ensuing consequences”. Depleted uranium rounds have been linked to cancer and birth defects. They were fired extensively by allied forces in Iraq. The rounds are slightly radioactive and scientists believe their toxic effects on human health can continue to be felt long after conflicts have ended.

Since Declassified first reported this story today, Russian president Vladimir Putin has threatened he “will have to respond accordingly” while his Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said it put the world “fewer and fewer” steps away from “nuclear collision”. Indeed, Russian leaders quickly denounced the move as escalatory. “If all this happens, Russia will have to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component,” warned Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu echoed Putin’s threat, noting that “fewer and fewer” steps of escalation remain before a “nuclear collision.”

If the United Kingdom follows through on the announcement, it will become the first country to openly send the controversial shells to Ukraine. DU is a remarkably hard substance, making it an effective material for rounds meant to break through the reinforced shells of armored vehicles and tanks. The United States used the weapons extensively in Iraq and reportedly deployed them in Syria during the fight against ISIS. Russia also claims to have DU rounds, though it remains unclear if the Kremlin has used them in Ukraine.

Defense News March 2023