Russia: US plan to send depleted uranium rounds to Ukraine a ‘criminal act’

Russia on Thursday blasted the United States over its decision to send Ukraine controversial depleted uranium munitions for Abrams tanks, calling Washington’s plan a “criminal act.” 

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it would for the first time send the ammunition as part of a new package of aid for Kyiv worth up to $175 million.  

The armor-piercing rounds are expected to be highly effective against Russian tanks, a reality that Moscow is not happy with.  

“This is not just an escalatory step, but it is a reflection of Washington’s outrageous disregard for the environmental consequences of using this kind of ammunition in a combat zone. This is, in fact, a criminal act, I cannot give any other assessment,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to state news agency TASS. 

And the Russian embassy in Washington called the plan “an indicator of inhumanity.” 

The $175 million revealed Wednesday is part of a larger, more than $1 billion aid package announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he visited Kyiv.  

During the trip, Blinken relayed that Ukrainian forces were making strong advances in its ongoing counteroffensive, and that he is seeing “real progress” in the operation. 

The U.S. confidence tracks with those of other Western allies in showing more hope for the operation as Ukrainian troops are trying to push through thick Russian lines in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region. 

The depleted uranium munitions are sure to help that effort, as until now, only the United Kingdom has sent Kyiv the same type of ammunition for its Challenger 2 tanks.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier accused the U.K. of sending “weapons with a nuclear component,” even though the U.S. has insisted that the munitions — while made with a byproduct of uranium enrichment — do not pose a radioactive threat. 

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, however, has said depleted uranium rounds still come with health risks should civilians come into contact with their dust. 

Tags Antony Blinken Sergei Ryabkov Vladimir Putin