Russian President Vladimir Putin is accusing the United Kingdom of escalating the conflict in Ukraine by sending anti-tank rounds containing depleted uranium to Kyiv to defend itself against Moscow’s year-old invasion.
In Moscow this week, Putin reportedly said, “If all this happens, Russia will have to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component.”
These anti-tank rounds for the British Challenger 2 battle tank are considered conventional weapons; they’re not nuclear weapons, as Putin seems to imply. The depleted uranium, which has less radioactivity than natural uranium, is just a component of the ammunition to strengthen it, not give it nuclear capabilities.
There is no mushroom cloud when it impacts a target.
The reason for using depleted uranium is that it’s significantly harder than many metals, allowing the projectile it’s used on to penetrate heavy armor such as that found on tanks and armored personnel carriers.
The idea that the use of a depleted uranium tank round in combat is in any way akin to the use of a nuclear weapon is ridiculous. The presence of these weapons is no justification for Putin to escalate the war across the nuclear threshold.
And oh, by the way, Russia is also believed to have depleted uranium munitions.
Of course, these claims by Putin are all part of the massive information campaign being waged by the Kremlin on distraught Russians at home and skeptical observers abroad to justify Moscow’s unjust war on its neighbor.
Indeed, Putin is possibly trying to lay the intellectual groundwork for the future use of a Russian low-yield tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine by claiming that NATO and Ukraine crossed the nuclear threshold first.
Of course, if Putin hadn’t invaded Ukraine in the first place, no one would need to send tanks—or some tank rounds with depleted uranium—to Ukraine so that the country could defend its political sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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