Situation in Ukraine

Biden administration to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine

by Fantine Gardinier, Sputnik Globe

Experts have warned that the use of depleted uranium (DU) could have highly detrimental effects on the health of Europeans and the fertility of the “black soil” region, especially following a massive explosion at a site in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine, where DU rounds have been stored.
Following months of debate amid steep resistance to their plans, the Biden administration has finally confirmed it will send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine to be used against Russian forces.
The White House confirmed that a batch of DU shells would be sent to kiev as part of a military aid package worth $175 million.
The package also includes equipment for Ukraine’s air defense systems, and additional HIMARS munitions, TOW missiles, 155mm artillery shells, and Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems.
Addressing Washington’s decision to send the dangerous shells to Kiev, UN spokesman Farhan Haq told Sputnik it is a concerning development.

“Our concerns about the use of depleted uranium anywhere in the world has been consistent and still stands,” Haq said.

The DU shells are intended to be used by US-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks due to their armor-piercing properties. Ukrainian forces are already using British DU rounds in the British-made Challenger 2 tanks with which they have been supplied, but Washington sending the rounds as well constitutes a further escalation, as Russian leaders have indicated.

“Due to the supply of radioactive and highly toxic British and American depleted uranium munitions, Ukraine is turning into an uninhabitable land. Radiation contamination of the soil is already happening and is being objectively recorded,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova recently warned.

DU is obtained from spent nuclear fuel already used by the reactors inside nuclear power plants, hence why it is called “depleted.” However, the dense material is not bereft of radiation, and after it is fired, it can poison the surrounding environment, with disastrous effects for soldiers, civilians, and wildlife alike.
The shells’ radioactive properties have a direct impact on their penetrative ability. When fired at enemy armor, DU-tipped rounds generate an immense amount of heat, literally sloughing off portions of the projectile as it rams into its target to keep the shell’s tip sharp and prevent mushrooming. This helps the rounds grind into and through armor almost like a hot knife through butter, penetrating enemy vehicles and killing any unfortunate souls who happen to be inside.

Tank, artillery, and air-launched DU munitions have left a horrifying record of destruction and illness in their wake in the countries where they have been deployed, including Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 invasion; Yugoslavia; Afghanistan; and Syria. Iraq and the former Yugloslav republics are the most heavily affected, with cancer rates in Iraq jumping from 40 cases per 100,000 people in 1991 to 800 per 100,000 in 1995, to a whopping 1,600 per 100,000 by 2025 after the US and Britain deployed up to 2,300 tons of DU in the country.

The US decision to supply Ukraine with the weapons comes after Kiev’s counteroffensive, much vaunted in the West as the potential turning point in the conflict that would evict Russian forces from former Ukrainian lands, has ground to a halt with few gains and catastrophic losses of both men and materiel.
Sputnik Globe
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