Ukraine is to receive weapons of mass destruction with depleted uranium. The Russians are furious

The big reaction among the Russian leaders and their allies was triggered by information about the supply of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine. There has been criticism regarding the negative impact on human health, concerns about escalation and threats. At the same time, Russia also uses this ammunition in Ukraine.

British Defense Secretary Annabel Goldie confirmed on Monday that along with the Challenger 2 tanks, the UK will also send depleted uranium tank ammunition to Ukraine. This immediately became a target of criticism from the Russian and Belarusian sides.

“If this happens, Russia will have to respond adequately to the fact that the West will start using weapons with nuclear components,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in response, according to Reuters.

“This decision will not remain without consequences for Russian-British relations and relations at the international level, when these plans of London are completely rejected by multilateral institutions. We will not leave similar actions without a response,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said according to the Tass agency.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recalled the use of munitions during the war in Yugoslavia: “There were consequences for the health of the soldiers who used these munitions. These were serious health problems and they were studied. But no one investigated what effects these munitions had on those against by which it was used.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is concerned about Ukrainian agriculture: “The use of depleted uranium munitions will severely limit, if not completely eliminate, Ukraine’s ability to grow high-quality uncontaminated food.”

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko hit back at the threats: “The moment these munitions hit the positions of Russian soldiers, you will see a terrible response. It will serve as a lesson for the whole planet.”

What are depleted uranium missiles

Depleted uranium missiles contain a very high density uranium alloy. It is made from discarded pieces of uranium fuel used in nuclear reactors. It is therefore essentially waste, which has another attractive aspect for manufacturers – its price is low compared to other materials suitable for armor-piercing ammunition.

“The term ‘depleted’ means that this ammunition has a smaller proportion of the fissile isotope U-235 than natural uranium. Due to its high density and penetration, it has been used for decades, mainly in anti-tank weapons and ammunition. Depleted uranium cannot be used for production nuclear weapons,” Michal Smetana, a researcher and teacher at the Institute of International Studies at FSV UK and head of the Peace Research Center Prague, described to

According to Jakub Drmola, a security analyst from Masaryk University, depleted uranium is used more for larger missiles, i.e. calibers of about 30 to 40 mm and higher, also for aircraft cartridges. But it can also appear with smaller caliber cartridges, as can be seen in the image below.

Depleted uranium missiles

25mm Depleted Uranium Missiles of the US Army | Source: Profimedia

​Another often mentioned property of these bullets is self-ignition. “After it starts to penetrate the armor, it splits, tiny ‘sawdust’ flies off with a very high temperature, and in contact with flammable material and oxygen, it ignites,” explained Drmola.

Impact on health and the environment

According to Czech experts, it has never been possible to unequivocally demonstrate the influence of depleted uranium on the occurrence of serious diseases in humans. “Ammunition with depleted uranium to increase penetration has nothing to do with a nuclear weapon. The radioactivity of uranium is very low. The effect of using such ammunition in war zones on the health of civilians has never been proven. The radiation situation in Ukraine remains normal,” the head of the State Office said on social networks for nuclear safety (SÚJB) Dana Drábová.

However, uranium is a heavy metal and as such is toxic. “Missiles with depleted uranium are not very radioactive, but they are a toxic material that can cause health problems. There are expert debates about the overall health and environmental effects of using this ammunition, but there are undoubtedly risks here and they need to be addressed,” he said. Cream.

The negative impact of depleted uranium used in ammunition has been talked about for several decades, it was mentioned, for example, in connection with the syndrome of the war in the Persian Gulf, when American soldiers participating in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm began to suffer from chronic health problems.

“The radioactivity is very low, and at the same time, due to the fact that a large number of other toxic substances are used in war, it is very difficult to determine what exactly is the cause of health problems. Whatever you hit the tank with and it starts to burn, there is a lot of other toxic crap that gets into the air and water,” explained Drmola.

The Russians also use this ammunition

Criticism from the Russian side is also somewhat empty given that this ammunition is used by the Russian army. For example, the Tass agency reported in 2018 that it could be used by improved T-80BV tanks. They are, or at least were, deployed in Ukraine.

Tank T-80BV

A T-80BV tank of the Russian army in a picture taken on May 22, 2022 near Mariupol, Ukraine

​The article also mentions the statement of the editor-in-chief of a Russian magazine focusing on the military, Viktor Murachovsky, who states that the use of this ammunition is not a violation of international agreements. “It is not something new that is coming to Ukraine now. The Russians have been using them not only in Ukraine, but for many years,” added Drmola. According to Smetana, the Czech army does not use these missiles.

Watch the TN Live interview with security analyst Daniel Koštoval regarding the current situation in Ukraine: