US Approves Controversial Depleted Uranium Shells for Ukraine in New $1 Billion Aid Package

The United States has announced it will provide more than $1 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which includes supplying controversial depleted uranium tank shells capable of piercing conventional tank armor. The move has provoked sharp criticism from Russia, particularly as it comes amid recent suspected drone attacks by Ukraine on Russian territory.

by Jack Diffley

The United States has confirmed plans to deliver over $1 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, drawing the ire of Russia. The aid package includes $175 million in military equipment, featuring 120mm depleted uranium tank shells slated for M1 Abrams tanks set to be delivered to Ukraine later this year.

Depleted uranium is a waste byproduct resulting from the enrichment of natural uranium for use in nuclear fuel or weaponry. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, these rounds are “considerably less radioactive than natural uranium.” Known for its extreme density and armor-piercing capability, depleted uranium has the potential to ignite upon contact with targets and is designed to sharpen upon impact, increasing its effectiveness in penetrating tank armor.

The move comes as suspected Ukrainian drone strikes occurred in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and near Moscow. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported that a drone aiming for the town of Ramenskoye was successfully intercepted, causing no damage. Meanwhile, a video that has not yet been verified showed what looked like an explosion in Rostov, where one person reportedly suffered minor injuries and several cars were damaged.

The latest American aid announcement was made during U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv, triggering a strong response from Russia. “The decision is an indicator of inhumanity,” said a statement from the Russian embassy in Washington, accusing the U.S. of deluding itself in supporting what it termed as a failing Ukrainian military counter-offensive.

This decision marks a reversal from the Pentagon’s previous stance, as it had announced in March that it would not send depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine. A Department of Defense official informed Politico that the change was made because these shells were deemed the best option for arming the Abrams tanks in Ukraine.

The new aid package will also include anti-armor systems, tactical air navigation systems, and extra ammunition for Himars missiles. “This new assistance will help sustain Ukraine’s military efforts and build further momentum,” Secretary Blinken stated.

This move follows a similar announcement from the United Kingdom in March, which also chose to send depleted uranium shells for Ukraine’s Challenger 2 tanks. Russia had reacted sharply to the UK decision as well, with President Vladimir Putin referring to the munitions as having a “nuclear component,” an assertion the UK Ministry of Defence refuted.

The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has found that depleted uranium does not pose significant poisoning risks, but the International Atomic Energy Agency cautioned there might be risks of radiation to those who handle fragments of these rounds.

The conflict saw another dark day on Wednesday when 17 people, including a child, were killed in an attack on the city of Kostyantynivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has blamed Russia for the incident, though Russia has yet to comment.

(Associated Medias) – All right reserved