The UK has confirmed that the ammunition will be delivered alongside Challenger 2 tanks. Depleted uranium is a by-product when uranium is enriched, and the fact that the substance is so heavy makes it useful in armor-piercing weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the decision, accusing the West of “using weapons with a nuclear component”. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described it as a “serious escalation”, according to AFP.
The criticism is dismissed from the British side. Foreign Minister James Cleverly says there is no nuclear escalation.
— There is no threat to Russia, this is only to help Ukraine defend itself, he said at a press conference according to several media, and continued:
— It is worth ensuring that everyone understands that just because the word uranium is in the heading “munitions containing depleted uranium”, it is not nuclear munitions.
Depleted uranium has been used since the Gulf War. The substance is radioactive, but much less so than untreated uranium. The radiation is also mainly alpha particles, which do not penetrate the skin, but which can be dangerous if you inhale dust particles with the substance or if, for example, shrapnel penetrates the body, according to a EU document.