(RightWing.org) – In February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his military over his country’s border with Ukraine using the justification that Kyiv is ruled by fascists akin to Nazi Germany during World War II. Since then, the Western allies of the NATO countries have sent the defending forces of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy numerous weapons systems to help them push back the Russians and their Wagner Group mercenaries. But one of the more recent shipments making its way to the battlefield is somewhat controversial and could give Putin another flimsy excuse to escalate the conflict.
The United Kingdom (UK) agreed to send ammunition that contains depleted uranium to the Ukrainian Army because of its armor-piercing properties. In order to create nuclear power plants and weapons, uranium found in nature undergoes a process called enrichment, which increases the percentage of the U-235 isotope, and what is left over can be formed into bullets and other projectiles used on a battlefield.
The United States and Great Britain both use these types of shells for several reasons, one of which is the density of the final product, which allows it to more easily punch through a main battle tank. Other factors in its effectiveness are the way it self-sharpens upon impact with armor, allowing it to penetrate more easily, and the fact that the dust can ignite and increase the amount of damage caused.
The term “depleted” does not mean nonradioactive; the byproducts of the enrichment process still contain low levels of radioactive materials, which is the source of the controversy. The extremely fine dust created when it hits a tank’s armor can be taken into the body by being ingested or inhaled. In “high concentrations in the kidney [it] can cause damage, and in extreme cases, renal failure,” according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Russian state-run news site Tass reported that “the agreement between Moscow and Minsk to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is a response to the irresponsible policy of London” in providing the depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine. They also claim they were told by Thierry Mariani, a pro-Kremlin member of the European Parliament from France that he voiced concerns about some NATO countries and their “desire for escalation” because they “constantly add fuel to the fire.”
In another Tass article, Putin’s media propaganda arm quoted the leader as accusing the West of using “weapons with a nuclear component” and said the country’s diplomatic team in the UK made an official complaint to the British government. One topic they broached was the potential effects the residual uranium could have on the health of the local civilian population. If nothing else, it makes a good sound bite that the Kremlin can use to make the claim that Putin actually does care about anyone who gets in the way of his attempt to rebuild the Soviet Union.
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