In the new package of aid that Washington has planned to bring to Ukraine, for an amount of 1 billion dollars, the United States would have pledged for the first time to provide depleted uranium munitions to its Ukrainian ally.
According to a State Department fact sheet, the military component of the aid that Antony Blinken pledged from Ukraine to President Zelensky includes the resupply of air defense system components, rocket systems Multi-Launch Guided Arrays (HIMARS), ordnance and communications systems. A US official told CNN Wednesday night that it also had depleted uranium ammunition. These projectiles are mildly radioactive because they are made from dense metal, a by-product of fuel production for nuclear power plants. They can be fired from Abrams tanks, these American tanks transiting through Poland which will soon be delivered to the Ukrainian forces.
Without waiting for confirmation of this information, Moscow castigated her. The American decision is “a reflection of Washington’s outrageous disregard for the environmental consequences of the use of this type of ammunition in a war zone”, reproached Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday. the outcome of a seminar on nuclear non-proliferation. “Clearly they don’t care who breathes in this ordnance, where it will be deposited, or what consequences it will have for those who are currently fighting and for the generations who will live on this earth.” , accused the diplomat.
“Russia, of course, has something to answer for”
In March, Britain’s Ministry of Defense accused Russia of spreading misinformation after President Vladimir Putin warned London against supplying Ukraine with munitions containing depleted uranium. “This is a standard component that has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities. Russia knows this, but it is deliberately trying to misinform,” a ministry spokesperson said at the time.
“Independent research by scientists from groups such as the Royal Society has essed that the impact of the use of depleted uranium munitions on human health and the environment is likely to be low,” he said. pleaded, without knowing whether London had completed its project. Putin, for his part, threatened to retaliate : “Russia, of course, has something to answer for. We have, without exaggeration, hundreds of thousands of such shells. We are not using them at the moment,” he warned in a television interview.
Depleted uranium is used in ammunition designed to pierce armor because it becomes sharper on impact with the target. These munitions, used in the wars of the last decades, are criticized because the uranium contained in the shells tends to disperse quickly in the air, which extends the zones of contamination to the particles and increases the risk of invisible exposure .
In the face of controversy, that science has not irrefutably decidedthe European Parliament adopted on 22 May 2008 a resolution in favor of a global treaty aimed at banning weapons and ammunition containing depleted uranium.