The U.K. first announced that it was providing Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions last month when it agreed to send British-made Challenger 2 main battle tanks as part of its most recent military aid package for Kyiv. (Related: UK to send Ukraine DEPLETED URANIUM tank rounds that could cause irreparable harm to the people and the land.)
Depleted uranium has a variety of civilian applications. But for the military, it is primarily used either to strengthen the armor plating of heavy tanks or to act as armor-piercing ammunition due to its high density and its pyrophoric properties.
While being questioned in the House of Commons on Tuesday, April 25, Minister of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey admitted that some of the depleted uranium munitions already reached their destination, but declined to comment on whether Kyiv was already using the rounds.
"We have sent thousands of rounds of Challenger 2 ammunition to Ukraine, including depleted uranium armor-piercing rounds," said Heappey in response to questions from Scottish member of parliament Kenny MacAskill.
Heappey added that the weapons "are now under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine" (AFU) and that the Defense Ministry "does not monitor the locations from where the depleted uranium rounds are fired by the AFU in Ukraine.
He further commented that the U.K. is under no obligation to aid Ukraine in cleaning up any radiation spillover due to the use of depleted uranium munitions when the conflict ends, claiming that Ukraine would have other, more pressing needs following the end of the conflict.
The Russian government has been working hard to prevent nations from providing arms shipments to Ukraine – especially for toxic depleted uranium. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Britain for its "absolute recklessness, irresponsibility and impunity."
The Russian Armed Forces warned last month that the use of depleted uranium ammunition is likely to "cause irreparable harm" to the health of Ukrainians and inflict "tremendous economic damage to the agro-industrial complex" of the region. The armed forces pointed to the impact these weapons had in Iraq when the United States used them.
Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrey Kelin stated last week in an interview with RT that depleted uranium munitions are "a terrible thing … for the agriculture of the people" of Ukraine. He added that the effects of the radioactive residue could contaminate Ukrainian water and soil "for at least six generations."
Heappey and the U.K. government have argued that depleted uranium only poses a relatively "low" risk to the health of the people and the environment exposed to it. However, this claim has been disputed by Doug Weir, an expert with the Conflict and Environment Observatory, who noted that uranium munitions produce "chemically toxic and radioactive particulates" when they strike hard targets. The dust created by the impact poses "an inhalation risk to people."
In response to Heappey's statements in parliament, the Russian embassy in the U.K. noted that the country's decision to deliver depleted uranium rounds to Ukraine is an act of "all-out escalation."
"James Heappey's comments are a grim testament to the ruthlessness of the Anglo-Saxons' policy of all-out escalation of the 'proxy conflict' they themselves unleashed in Ukraine," read the statement. "He cynically stated that London is not monitoring the deployment of these weapons and has no obligation to eliminate the consequences of their use following the end of the conflict."
The embassy added that it will not let the British government escape accountability by passing off the responsibility of radioactive cleanup to the Ukrainian nation. It also stated that the government in London will be made responsible for the effects of the toxic ammunition.
Learn more about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine at UkraineWitness.com.
Watch this clip from RT discussing how the United Kingdom does not care about the consequences of sending depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine.