The United States is poised to send depleted uranium round to Kyiv in a move that has been highly criticized by Moscow. So far, only the United Kingdom has armed Ukraine with such munitions.
According to one senior U.S. official who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, “there appear to be no major obstacles to approving the ammunition,” with internal deliberations over the matter said to have been ongoing for several weeks.
Despite concerns that such munitions could have a dramatic negative effect on the environment and public health, not to mention further ratchet up the tensions by angering Russia, the U.S. is likely to greenlight the move. The Pentagon sees the controversial shells as being suitable for the M1 Abrams tanks promised by Washington to Ukraine earlier this year, according to a report by RT. The tanks are expected to arrive this fall, and this type of ammo has very high-armor piercing capabilities and could give Kyiv a boost in tank battles with Russia.
The UK’s decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine left Moscow furious, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying that the delivery would be “taking this escalation to a new and very serious stage.” Russia’s embassy in London accused the U.S. and its allies of being willing to turn Ukraine into “not only an anti-Russian military shooting range, but also a radioactive landfill.”
In the wake of the UK’s announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would respond by placing tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. He noted that in this respect Moscow’s actions do not differ from those of the US, which has nuclear weapons deployed in five European countries, according to RT.
The delivery of depleted uranium shells would, no doubt, further enrage the Russian ruling class. So far, Moscow’s responses to the West and NATO’s obvious attempts to keep the war going at all costs have been subdued. How much longer will that be the case though?