Putin Misleadingly Claims UK Is Sending ‘Weapons With a Nuclear Component’ to Ukraine

(CNSNews.com) – Britain’s ministry of defense accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of deliberately spreading disinformation on Tuesday after he insinuated that the U.K. was planning to provide Ukraine with “weapons with a nuclear component.”

Speaking alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping after their talks in Moscow, Putin said he had just learned that Britain plans to send weaponry to Ukraine including tank shells containing depleted uranium.

“If all this comes to pass, then Russia will have to respond accordingly,” Putin said, adding, “What I mean is that the collective West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component.”

In January the British government announced that it would provide Ukraine’s armed forces with 14 of its Challenger 2 battle tanks. On Monday, it confirmed that the ammunition it would supply for use with the tanks would include armor piercing shells that contain depleted uranium.

“Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armored vehicles,” junior defense minister Baroness Annabel Goldie said in a written response to a parliamentary question.


In a statement Tuesday responding to Putin’s remarks, the ministry of defense said, “The British Army has used depleted uranium in its armor piercing shells for decades. It is a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities. Russia knows this but is deliberately trying to disinform.”

“Independent research by scientists from groups such as the Royal Society has assessed that any impact to personal health and the environment from the use of depleted uranium munitions is likely to be low,” the ministry added.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who also took part in the Russia-China talks, was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling reporters on the sidelines that the supply of depleted uranium shells would bring the world one step closer to a nuclear collision.

“Another step has been taken, and there are fewer and fewer left,” he said.

In the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine a year ago and since, Putin and other senior Russian officials have periodically hinted at nuclear escalation, prompting U.S. officials to urge Moscow to stop what they described as dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric.

Trace amounts of depleted uranium, an exceptionally hard by-product of enriched uranium, are used in the tips of munitions to give them increasing tank-busting capability. DU shells were used in large numbers in the 1991 Gulf War, in the Balkans conflicts, and in the Iraq War. Russia also uses depleted uranium shells.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “DU is considerably less radioactive than natural uranium.”

Even so, the use of DU is controversial, especially when close to civilian areas. Dust clouds caused by shells’ impact contain toxic oxides that can be inhaled, a U.N. Environmental Program report on Ukraine stated last year.

“Depleted uranium and toxic substances in common explosives can cause skin irritation, kidney failure and increase the risks of cancer,” it said.

The Royal Society research cited by the ministry of defense, conducted in 2001-2002, found that the risk to human organs and tissues from the use of DU in munitions were “very low for most soldiers on the battlefield and for those living in the conflict area.”

“In extreme conditions and under worst-case assumptions, soldiers who receive large intakes of DU could suffer adverse effects on the kidney and lung,” it said.


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