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Monday, April 15, 2024

Russia accuses West of turning Ukraine into ‘radioactive landfill’

British supplies of depleted uranium munitions show the “ruthlessness” of Western policy in Ukraine, Moscow has said

Russia has condemned the UK’s decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine, saying the move marks an “all-out escalation” after the British Defence Ministry confirmed the radioactive weapons were already in Kiev’s hands.

Moscow’s UK embassy issued a statement on Tuesday after senior official James Heappey acknowledged that the British DU munitions had arrived on the battlefield, to be fired from Challenger 2 tanks also supplied to Ukraine.

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“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,” it said. “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 went on to say that the British government would be responsible for the effects of the “toxic ammunition” and could not escape accountability by passing them off to Ukrainian forces.

In an interview with RT last week, Russia’s envoy to Britain, Ambassador Andrey Kelin, warned that DU munitions will be a “terrible thing… for the agriculture and for the people” of Ukraine, saying radioactive residue could contaminate the country’s water and soil “for at least six generations.”

Both UK and US officials have disputed the purported health hazards associated with DU shells – which use a dense uranium core to improve their armor-piercing capabilities – and deny allegations that the weapons were linked to a spike in cancer and birth defects in Iraq.

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Heappey claimed that depleted uranium carries only “low” health and environmental risks, pointing to a 2007 government study. He added that the Defence Ministry would make no effort to track where Ukrainian forces use British-supplied DU rounds, and has “no obligation” to assist clean-up efforts after the conflict.

However, according to Doug Weir, an expert with the Conflict and Environment Observatory, uranium munitions generate “chemically toxic and radioactive DU particulate” when they strike hard targets, adding that the dust poses “an inhalational risk to people.” Other recent research has also indicated that the weapons could produce “adverse health outcomes” given the “chemotoxic and radiotoxic” properties of DU.

Moscow has urged foreign powers to cease all weapon shipments to Ukraine, arguing that the aid will not deter its military aims but only prolong the conflict. After the UK announced its decision to supply depleted uranium rounds to Kiev last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Western nations would like to “see Ukraine completely destroyed” and are acting with “absolute recklessness, irresponsibility and impunity.”