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13 Jun, 2023 13:06

Washington set to give Kiev depleted-uranium rounds – WSJ

The US could become the second country after the UK to approve such a move, which was fiercely criticized by Moscow
Washington set to give Kiev depleted-uranium rounds – WSJ

The US is poised to greenlight shipments of depleted-uranium shells to Ukraine despite concerns that such munitions could have a dramatic negative effect on the environment and public health, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing sources.

According to one senior US official who spoke to the outlet, “there appear to be no major obstacles to approving the ammunition,” with internal deliberations over the matter said to have been ongoing for several weeks.

The Pentagon sees the controversial shells as being suitable for the M1 Abrams tanks promised by Washington to Ukraine earlier this year, but expected to arrive only this fall, the report says. It added that this type of ammo has very high-armor piercing capabilities and could give Kiev a boost in tank battles with Russia.

However, some officials in US President Joe Biden’s administration have reportedly pointed out that the use of such ammunition could pose serious environmental and health risks.

Should the US approve depleted-uranium shells for Ukraine, it would follow an earlier move by the UK, which announced similar shipments in March. At the time, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby described this type of ammunition as “fairly commonplace,” adding that it had been in use “for decades.” 

The UK’s decision, however, left Moscow furious, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying that the delivery would be “taking this escalation to a new and very serious stage.” Russia’s embassy in London accused the US and its allies of being willing to turn Ukraine into “not only an anti-Russian military shooting range, but also a radioactive landfill.” 

In the wake of the UK’s announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled that Moscow would respond by placing tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. He noted that in this respect Moscow’s actions do not differ from those of the US, which has nuclear weapons deployed in five European countries.