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UK supplies depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, Russia moves nuclear warheads to Belarus

The British Ministry of Defence confirmed pp 20 March 2023 that the UK will also supply depleted uranium (DU) ammunition to Ukraine along with Challenger 2 tanks. The ICDUW (International Coalition for a ban on (depleted) uranium weapons) strongly condemns this supply of British ammunition with depleted uranium to Ukraine.

On March 20, 2023, it was confirmed by the British Ministry of defence that the UK, along with Challenger 2 tanks, will also supply depleted uranium (DU) ammunition to Ukraine. According to CEOBS (Conflict and Environment Observatory), these are CHARM3 bullets (L27A1 APFSDS) that are currently out of production.

In February, ICDUW published in an additional newsletter a list of weapons systems and ammunition, which could possibly be delivered to Ukraine. The Challenger 2 tanks appear in this list. The delivery for deployment in the war in Ukraine has now been officially confirmed.

ICDUW strongly regrets and condemns the decision of the British government to supply these weapons to Ukraine. And condemns the use of any weapon system and depleted uranium ammunition by all parties involved.

The use of DU ammunition has been shown to cause lasting damage to the health of people living in contaminated areas. Military personnel and aid workers are also exposed to health risks. in addition, long-term environmental damage occurs, including groundwater contamination. The supply of CHARM3 ammunition poses additional risks because the expiration date of this ammunition is 2015.

ICDUW also condemns the use of depleted uranium munitions by the Russian military. GICHD (Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining) wrote a report in 2022 confirming the use of ammunition 3bm32 “Vant” by Russia. The media report on the delivery of the more modern 3bm60 “Svinets-2” ammunition by Russia for the battlefield.

President Putin’s statement about an “appropriate response “to the British deliveries of the weapons with” nuclear components” was surprising. Russia speaks of a possible “nuclear collision” (Shoigu) or the “use of dirty atomic bombs” in the form of depleted uranium ammunition (Gavrilov). Depleted uranium projectiles are not nuclear weapons, but conventional weapons that are chemically toxic and radioactive.

The use of depleted uranium is misused in political discourse. What is certain is that the use of depleted uranium leads to contamination of the environment with consequences for the health of all living beings that live in contaminated areas.

ICDUW continues to monitor the supply and use of military equipment and munitions containing depleted uranium. Together with NGOs in Ukraine, ICBUW started a project to inform and protect the population, marking and disinfecting contaminated areas where possible.

Paolo Sorbello

Paolo Sorbello is a journalist and researcher. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, studying state-business relations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. He is also the Business News Editor of the weekly newspaper The Conway Bulletin.

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