Russia has slammed U.S’ plan to provide the Ukrainian military with ammunition containing depleted uranium as part of a new $1bn assistance package to Kyiv.
The Pentagon said that depleted uranium shells would be part of a new military package worth up to $175m.
This is out of more than $1bn in civilian and defence support that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv on Wednesday, September 7, 2023.
The depleted uranium rounds will be used to arm the 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks that U.S. plans to deliver to Ukraine.
In a post on Telegram, Russia’s embassy in Washington stated that the decision to supply weapons with depleted uranium is “an indicator of inhumanity.”
It added that “the United States is deluding itself by refusing to accept the failure of the Ukrainian military’s so-called counteroffensive.”
“Clearly, with its idea of inflicting a ‘strategic defeat’, Washington is prepared to fight not only to the last Ukrainian but also to do away with entire generations.”Russian enbassy in U.S
“The U.S is deliberately transferring weapons with indiscriminate effects, ” the embassy noted.
“It is fully aware of the consequences: explosions of such munitions result in the formation of a moving radioactive cloud.
“Small particles of uranium settle in the respiratory tract, lungs, esophagus, accumulate in kidneys and liver, cause cancer and lead to the inhibition of the whole organism’s functions.”Russian embassy in U.S
Russian foreign ministry Spokesperson, Maria Zakharova also criticized the U.S decision. She wrote on Telegram, “What is this: a lie or stupidity?”
She claimed that an increase in cancer had been noted in places where ammunition with depleted uranium was used.
According to a news report, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkovstate, said the supply of depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine by the U.S is “a criminal act.”
Ryabkov noted that Russia continues to hold contacts on humanitarian issues with the US, but not to work together on major issues.
“There is no dialogue there,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
Along with the depleted uranium shells, the new military assistance package includes Javelin anti-tank missiles, tactical air navigation systems and additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
While the United Kingdom sent depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine earlier this year, this will be the first US shipment to Ukraine of the controversial armour-piercing shells.
Even though the use of depleted uranium shells is not banned under international law, their use has been fiercely debated.
Opponents such as the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons claim that there are dangerous health risks from ingesting or inhaling depleted uranium dust, including cancers and birth defects.
Kirby Defends Washington’s Decision
U.S National Security Council Spokesman, John Kirby defended the plan to send the ammunition to KYIV.
He said that the ammunition is not radioactive and “not anywhere close to going into” the sphere of nuclear weaponry.
“This is a commonplace type of munition that is used particularly for its armour-piercing capabilities,” he said.
Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process needed to create nuclear weapons.
According to RAND nuclear expert and policy researcher, Edward Geist, the rounds retain some radioactive properties, but they can’t generate a nuclear reaction like a nuclear weapon would.
Blinken said on Wednesday that the latest assistance to Kyiv would ensure that Ukraine “has what it needs” to succeed in its ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces, and also strengthen Ukraine’s longer-term defence capabilities.
“Certainly, we see the important progress that’s being made now in the counteroffensive, and that’s very, very encouraging,” Blinken told Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.