Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to “respond accordingly” to the U.K.’s plans to send Ukraine ammunition that contains depleted uranium (DU).
“If all this happens, Russia will have to respond accordingly. I’m talking about the fact the west is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component,” he said following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to Russian news outlets.
🇷🇺🇬🇧 Putin:'Russia Will Respond Accordingly'if UK Sends Depleted Uranium to Ukraine‼️‼️
“It looks like the West indeed intends to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian—not on words but on deeds …I'd like to note that if that happens,Russia will respond accordingly.”‼️☝️🤔🙏👇👇 pic.twitter.com/eHHjP1GPYo
— Sophia Dahl (@sophiadahl1) March 22, 2023
Putin’s remarks came after the British Defense Ministry said it would supply Ukraine with ammunition for the Challenger 2 battle tanks that include armor-piercing rounds with DU.
Ammunition with DU is considered radioactive. It is used in armor-piercing shells and munitions to generate more “penetrating power.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova condemned the munitions supplies, comparing it to a “Yugoslav scenario,” referencing when nations part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) used munitions containing DU during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s.
“These shells not only kill but infect the environment and cause cancer in people living on these lands,” Zakharova claimed.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DU that is ingested or inhaled; can become a health hazard. Exposing it to the outside of the body is not considered hazardous.
While Russia criticizes the U.K. for sending DU to Ukraine, the country has used the product.
Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency intel officer for Russian doctrine and strategy, explained that the munitions containing DU are in modern warfare and that Russia’s rhetoric is to “confuse the audience.”
“Depleted uranium is used by the U.S. and NATO in ammunition to enhance its destructive power, to pierce armor. But the Russians have started using it as well,” she said.
“As of approximately 2018-2019, in their T-80BV main battle tank fires depleted uranium shells,” Koffler stated. “Putin is trying to confuse the audience, to find a pretext for additional escalatory actions in Ukraine.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu threatened that there are fewer steps toward “nuclear collision” with the U.K. after the country’s plan to provide Ukraine with DU.
“Another step has been taken, and there are fewer and fewer left,” Shoigu told reporters.