U.S. Sends Controversial Depleted Uranium Munitions to Ukraine Amidst Criticism

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U.S. Sends Controversial Depleted Uranium Munitions to Ukraine Amidst Criticism
U.S. Sends Controversial Depleted Uranium Munitions to Ukraine Amidst Criticism © Getty Images News/Alex Wong

In a significant development that ripples through geopolitical waters, the United States has taken the controversial step of shipping depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine. As a part of a robust aid package exceeding $1 billion, this decision was made public on Wednesday.

A Military Aid with Consequences?

The 120mm depleted uranium rounds, designed for the US-manufactured Abrams M1 tanks, are expected to bolster Ukraine's frontlines come this fall. Both Washington and Kyiv share the aspiration that these munitions will amplify the momentum Ukrainian forces have painstakingly achieved in their current counteroffensive.

However, this decision is not without its ramifications. The nature of these munitions, being mildly radioactive, has ignited concerns regarding the potential risks to civilians and their overall safety. Unsurprisingly, this move has not been well-received in Moscow, eliciting sharp criticism.

Addressing these apprehensions, Deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh, in her conversation with CNN, emphasized the U.S.' s trust in the Ukrainian military's judicious use of these rounds. “These rounds are standard use in the tanks that not only the US uses, but that we will be providing the Ukrainians,” Singh commented.

She further assured that the U.S. possesses "absolute confidence" in Ukraine's responsible application of the munitions as they reclaim their sovereign territories. It's noteworthy that this isn't the first time the Biden administration has taken such a bold step.

Earlier this year, the U.S. decided to supply Ukraine with the even more contentious cluster munitions.

International Reactions: A Tug of Words

The United Kingdom had previously confirmed in March its intentions to send similar munitions to Ukraine.

This announcement was met with a swift and stern response from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin expressed his concerns saying, “Today it became known that Great Britain… announced not only the supply of tanks to Ukraine, but also shells with combined uranium”.

Putin further warned, emphasizing the West's tilt towards using weaponry with nuclear components. UK officials, however, countered Putin’s claims. A defense ministry spokesperson clarified that the British Army's usage of depleted uranium in armor-piercing shells is a long-standing practice, dismissing any connections with nuclear weaponry.

On the other side, Russia's foreign ministry labeled the U.S. decision a “criminal act”. In a press conference, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov conveyed Russia's concerns, noting that the decision not only escalates tensions but also displays “outrageous disregard for the environmental consequences” of deploying such munitions in conflict zones.

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