Russia has strongly criticized the US decision to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium ammunition, characterizing it as a blatant display of “inhumanity.”
Russia’s embassy in Washington emphasized that providing such indiscriminate ammunition not only poses a threat to Ukrainians but also endangers future generations.
The Pentagon recently announced its intention to send armor-piercing munitions containing depleted uranium for US-made Abrams tanks in Ukraine, marking the first time such ammunition would be included in a military package valued at up to $175 million.
These M1 Abrams tanks are expected to be delivered to Ukraine later this year. Additionally, the package comprises anti-tank missiles, artillery and mortar rounds, tactical air navigation systems, and extra ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
The Russian embassy asserted that Washington’s decision to provide depleted uranium weapons is a clear indication of its inhumanity. They suggested that the US is not only willing to fight to the last Ukrainian but is also endangering future generations by intentionally transferring weapons with indiscriminate effects.
This decision by the US has raised global concerns about the serious health risks associated with depleted uranium ammunition. It is well-known that the use of such munitions results in the creation of a moving radioactive cloud, with small uranium particles settling in the respiratory tract, lungs, esophagus, kidneys, and liver, leading to cancer and severe bodily harm.
The Russian embassy criticized the US Administration for its apparent indifference to both Ukraine’s current situation and the future of the country and its European neighbors. The US assistance package also includes over $665 million in new military and civilian security support, along with substantial aid for Ukraine’s air defenses and other areas.
This development occurred shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kiev for a two-day visit during Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive against Russian forces. The US had previously announced $250 million in fresh military aid to Ukraine, including equipment for mine clearance, missiles, artillery rounds, anti-armor missiles, and small arms ammunition.
Depleted uranium (DU) is a dense, slightly radioactive metal that is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process used for nuclear fuel and weapons production. Its use in military applications, particularly in ammunition, has raised concerns due to its potential health and environmental effects. Here are some of the key effects associated with depleted uranium:
- Radioactivity: Depleted uranium is weakly radioactive, emitting alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. While the level of radioactivity is lower than that of natural uranium, prolonged exposure to DU dust or fragments can pose radiation risks, especially if inhaled or ingested.
- Penetrating Power: DU is exceptionally dense and has excellent armor-piercing capabilities. When DU penetrators strike armored vehicles, they can generate high temperatures upon impact, leading to the vaporization and dispersion of DU particles.
- Environmental Contamination: DU contamination can occur in areas where DU munitions are used. It can persist in the environment for extended periods, potentially contaminating soil and water. This contamination can pose long-term health and environmental risks.
- Health Concerns: The inhalation or ingestion of DU particles can lead to potential health effects, including kidney damage and an increased risk of lung cancer. There are also concerns about DU’s possible role in contributing to Gulf War Syndrome among veterans exposed to DU during conflicts in the 1990s.
- Birth Defects and Genetic Effects: Some studies have suggested a possible link between DU exposure and an increased risk of birth defects and genetic mutations. However, the evidence on this is still inconclusive, and further research is needed.
- Social and Psychological Impact: The presence of DU munitions can lead to fear and anxiety in affected communities, as they worry about the long-term health and environmental consequences. This can contribute to social and psychological stress.
Since Russia initiated its “special military operation” in Ukraine last February, Kiev has received more than $43 billion in support from the US, including weapons systems like howitzers and millions of rounds of ammunition, some of which have been widely banned, like cluster munitions. Russia has consistently warned that continued Western arms and military equipment supplies to Ukraine would only prolong the conflict.