Depleted uranium shells promised to Kiev by the UK would ?cause irreparable harm? to soldiers and civilians alike, Moscow says
The potential use of Western-supplied depleted uranium shells by Ukraine would have a devastating impact on the country's economy and population, lasting for centuries to come, the Russian Defense Ministry warned on Friday.
Speaking at a briefing, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, who is in charge of Russia's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Forces, issued a scathing criticism of the UK's plans to support Kiev with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
He noted that such munitions have only ever been deployed in combat by NATO countries, most notably during the Iraq War, when the US used at least 300 tons of depleted uranium.
"As a result, the radiation situation in the [Iraqi] city of Fallujah was much worse than in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the nuclear bombings by the United States," Kirillov stated, recalling that Fallujah had been dubbed "the second Chernobyl," while the local population suffered from a skyrocketing number of cancer cases.
The West is well aware of the consequences of using such weapons, the general stressed. Even though it "will cause irreparable harm" to the health of Ukrainian troops and civilians, "NATO countries, in particular the UK, express a readiness to supply this type of weapon to the Kiev regime," Kirillov stated.
He warned that the use of the munitions will contaminate farmland. "In addition to infecting its own population, this will cause tremendous economic damage to the agro-industrial complex of Ukraine... reducing any export of agricultural produce from Ukrainian territory for many decades, if not centuries to come," the general said.
The UK's plans to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine for use with Challenger 2 battle tanks were first unveiled on Monday, prompting an outcry from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which called the move a sign of "absolute recklessness, irresponsibility and impunity" on the part of London and Washington.
While the US has said it does not plan to support Ukraine with such ammunition, it shrugged off Russian concerns over the matter, describing depleted uranium shells as "a commonplace type of munition" which has "been in use for decades."