The British military has confirmed that thousands of depleted uranium rounds are now in Ukraine, despite prior vehement Russian warnings not to follow through with the transfer.
“We have sent thousands of rounds of Challenger 2 ammunition to Ukraine, including depleted uranium armour-piercing rounds,” British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said while fielding a question from Scottish MP Kenny MacAskill.
Heappey confirmed that the controversial munitions “are now under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU)” and that the UK Defense Ministry “does not monitor the locations from where DU rounds are fired by the AFU in Ukraine.”
The defense chief was also grilled by MPs over whether the UK is tracking the rates of depleted uranium rounds are being used against Russian forces, to which he responded, “For operational security reasons, we will not comment on Ukrainian usage rates for the rounds provided.”
As for the United States, the Bradley Fighting Vehicles which have already been sent to Kiev are capable of being outfitted with depleted uranium munitions, but the White House hasn’t revealed whether or not they are equipped with them.
When it was first revealed in March that Britain would send the armor-piercing tank rounds for Challenger II tanks to Ukraine, the reports triggered a fierce reaction from the Kremlin, with a strong-worded statement emphasizing that such a weapon will be treated as tantamount to using a nuclear dirty bomb.
“Yugoslav scenario. These shells not only kill, but infect the environment and cause oncology in people living on these lands,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time, in reference to cancer and other deadly ailments. “By the way, it is naive to believe that only those against whom all this will be used will become victims. In Yugoslavia, NATO soldiers, in particular the Italians, were the first to suffer. Then they tried for a long time to get compensation from NATO for lost health. But their claims were denied,” she said. Zakharova then added, “When will they wake up in Ukraine?… Their benefactors poison them.”
During the US occupation of Iraq, use of depleted uranium by NATO allies was linked to cancer and birth defects among the Iraqi population.
Putin as a result of the UK move said that Russia announced he would deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.