Moscow: Taking strong note about potential use of British-supplied depleted uranium shells by Ukraine, Russia condemned the move saying that the action propelled by the west would have a devastating impact on the country’s economy and population, lasting for centuries to come.
Speaking at a briefing, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, who is in charge of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Forces, issued a scathing criticism of the UK’s plans to support Kiev with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
The Russian Defense Ministry noted that such munitions have only ever been deployed in combat by NATO countries, most notably during the Iraq War, when the US used at least 300 tons of depleted uranium.
“As a result, the radiation situation in the [Iraqi] city of Fallujah was much worse than in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the nuclear bombings by the United States,” Kirillov stated, recalling that Fallujah had been dubbed “the second Chernobyl,” while the local population suffered from a skyrocketing number of cancer cases.The West is well aware of the consequences of using such weapons, the general stressed. Even though it “will cause irreparable harm” to the health of Ukrainian troops and civilians, “NATO countries, in particular the UK, express a readiness to supply this type of weapon to the Kiev regime,” Kirillov was quoted by Russia Today as saying.
Kirillov also warned that the use of the munitions will contaminate farmland. “In addition to infecting its own population, this will cause tremendous economic damage to the agro-industrial complex of Ukraine… reducing any export of agricultural produce from Ukrainian territory for many decades, if not centuries to come,” the general was quoted by Russia Today as saying.
The UK’s plans to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine for use with Challenger 2 battle tanks were first unveiled last week. Soon after the news surfaced it prompted an outcry from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which called the move a sign of “absolute recklessness, irresponsibility and impunity” on the part of west led by Washington.
However, Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had clarified that there was no nuclear escalation in the Ukraine war after Russian President Vladimir Putin criticised Britain for supplying depleted uranium tank munitions to Ukrainian forces.
Britain had on Monday confirmed it was supplying Ukraine with ammunition which contained depleted uranium. The heavy metal is used in weapons because it can penetrate tanks and armour more easily due to its density, amongst other properties
Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process needed to create nuclear weapons. The rounds retain some radioactive properties, but they can’t generate a nuclear reaction like a nuclear weapon would, RAND nuclear expert and policy researcher Edward Geist said.