Should they be taking them? Ukraine is desperate for any bit of warring materiel its armed forces can lay their hands on, but depleted uranium shells would surely not be a model example of use. And yet, the UK, in an act of killing with kindness, is happy to fork them out to aid the cause against the Russians, despite the scandals, the alleged illnesses, and environmental harms.
An outline of the measure was provided by Minister of state for defence Baroness Annabel Goldie’s written answer to a question posed by Lord Hylton: “Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition including armour piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium. Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armoured vehicles.”
The response from the Kremlin was swift. “If all this happens,” warned Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Russia will have to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component.” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also foresaw “nuclear collision”.
The statement from Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian lower house, shifted the focus from potential nuclear catastrophe to the field of medical consequences, reminding his fellow members that the use of such ammunition by the US in former Yugoslavia and Iraq had led to “radioactive contamination and a sharp rise in oncological cases.”