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Russia today accused Britain of triggering ‘genocide’ by supplying Ukraine with depleted uranium tank shells.

Moscow stepped up its onslaught on London after Vladimir Putin said he ‘will have to respond properly since the collective West will be using weapons with a nuclear component’.

Britain accused the Russians of ‘deliberately trying to disinform’ over a ‘standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities’.

The depleted uranium ammunition – which Britain is providing to Kyiv with Challenger 2 battle tanks – can cause serious radiation damage if it enters the body and is linked to increased instances of cancer and other illnesses in warzones. 

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back at the UK declaring: ‘The use of ammunition with depleted uranium is a manifestation of genocide of the population against which it is used and the people who use them.’

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back at the UK today

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back at the UK today

Moscow stepped up its onslaught on London after Vladimir Putin yesterday said he 'will have to respond properly since the collective West will be using weapons with a nuclear component'

Moscow stepped up its onslaught on London after Vladimir Putin yesterday said he ‘will have to respond properly since the collective West will be using weapons with a nuclear component’

They would cause radioactive damage to ‘everyone’ living in the place where the depleted uranium tank shells are released, Zakharova said.

‘They receive it, and it’s not a one-time problem…they will live with this forever.’

This was a ‘scientifically proven fact’ based on their use in former Yugoslavia, she alleged.

‘This is another British provocation, which aims to bring the situation around Ukraine to a new round of aggression, conflict and confrontation, to give a qualitatively different dimension,’ said Zakharova.

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Her boss foreign minister Sergei Lavrov earlier warned: ‘I am not surprised by anything because [the British] have already lost their bearings in terms of actions blasting strategic stability across the world.’

He added: ‘Anglo-Saxons, who pull the rest to the collective West with them…want to keep their hegemony with all their might.

‘If this is true, then they are ready not only to take risks but to violate international humanitarian law, as they did in 1999 in Yugoslavia and many other things…including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

‘They took over this organisation called the International Criminal Court [and use it] to blast all imaginable norms of international law.

‘If it truly happens, there are no doubts that it will end badly for them.’

Sergei Lavrov earlier warned: 'I am not surprised by anything because [the British] have already lost their bearings in terms of actions blasting strategic stability across the world'

Sergei Lavrov earlier warned: ‘I am not surprised by anything because [the British] have already lost their bearings in terms of actions blasting strategic stability across the world’

Sergei Shoigu (pictured with Putin) yesterday warned the world is just mere 'steps' away from nuclear disaster

Sergei Shoigu (pictured with Putin) yesterday warned the world is just mere ‘steps’ away from nuclear disaster

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Putin was framing the ‘provision of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine as a significant escalation in order to bolster information operations aiming to deter Western security assistance to Ukraine.’

The U.S. based think-tank said Russia was looking ‘to place the onus for negotiations on the West’.

The ISW stressed: ‘Such munitions cannot be used to produce either nuclear or radiological weapons’ as the shells do not contain ‘any fissile or radiological material’.

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Despite this, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) still condemned the British decision to supply Kyiv with depleted uranium tank shells. The group said it provided ‘additional environmental and health disaster for those living through the conflict’ due to the potential inhalation of radioactive dust following the shell’s impact.

‘CND has repeatedly called for the UK government to place an immediate moratorium on the use of depleted uranium weapons and to fund long-term studies into their health and environmental impacts,’ the group’s general secretary, Kate Hudson, said.

Britain is providing to Kyiv with Challenger 2 battle tanks and depleted uranium shells. Pictured: Ukrainian recruits undergo tank training with the British Armed Forces in southern England in February

Britain is providing to Kyiv with Challenger 2 battle tanks and depleted uranium shells. Pictured: Ukrainian recruits undergo tank training with the British Armed Forces in southern England in February

Ukrainian servicemen from the Special Operations Forces drive a tank along the frontline north of Bakhmut, March 16, 2023

Ukrainian servicemen from the Special Operations Forces drive a tank along the frontline north of Bakhmut, March 16, 2023

It came after Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s chilling message yesterday, warning the world is just mere ‘steps’ away from nuclear disaster, after raging at the UK’s decision to send depleted uranium tanks.

‘Another step has been taken, and there are fewer and fewer left,’ Shoigu said. When asked whether this meant that the world was closer to a nuclear collision, he replied: ‘It was not by chance that I told you about steps. There are fewer and fewer.’

Russian president Vladimir Putin piled in yesterday as he seethed over the UK’s decision to send machinery and ammunition to Kyiv.

Russia ‘will be forced to react’ if the UK goes ahead with its delivery of the 14 next-generation battle tanks, Putin said following meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday.

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‘The United Kingdom announced not only the supply of tanks to Ukraine, but also shells with depleted uranium,’ the despot said.

‘If this happens, Russia will be forced to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component. It looks like the West indeed intends to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian,’ added.

What are depleted uranium tank shells? 

Depleted uranium is used in ammunition like tank shells as it has the capability of penetrating thick layers of armour.

As they contain radioactive material, the weaponry is more dense, providing greater effectiveness at piercing heavy machinery than regular tank shells.

But as the UK said, it has little to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities – rather it is a by-product of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons. It is around 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium.

But depleted uranium can cause serious radiation damage if it enters the body. It is linked to increased instances of cancer, increased rates of birth defects in warzones, and other illnesses. If it enters the body – for example through shrapnel or inhalation of dust – it can get into lungs and vital organs.

Despite this, many countries have stockpiles of depleted uranium ammunition including Russia, the US and the UK. 

 

 

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