In a significant move, the United States has announced the allocation of depleted uranium 120mm rounds as part of a $175 million military aid package destined for Kyiv. These rounds are specifically designed for the M1 Abrams tanks, which are slated for delivery to Ukraine by year-end.
Controversy Surrounding Depleted Uranium
Depleted uranium munitions have long been a topic of contention due to their potential health risks, including links to cancer and birth defects in regions where they have been deployed in past conflicts. However, it’s worth noting that conclusive evidence directly attributing these health issues to depleted uranium is yet to be established.
The exceptional density of depleted uranium, a by-product of the nuclear enrichment process, imparts rounds containing it with superior armor-piercing capabilities, making it an ideal component for ammunition tailored to target heavily fortified tanks. Despite its controversial nature, depleted uranium munitions are present in the military arsenals of numerous countries, including the United States and Russia. Moreover, their use is not explicitly prohibited under international law.
The UK’s Precedent and Russia’s Response
Earlier this year, Britain announced its intention to supply Kyiv with armor-piercing ammunition containing depleted uranium. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stark warning of potential utilization in Ukraine.
Comprehensive Military Aid Package
In addition to depleted uranium rounds, the $175 million military assistance package encompasses an array of weaponry, including anti-tank missiles, artillery and mortar rounds, small arms ammunition, and demolitions munitions for obstacle clearance, as outlined by the Pentagon.
A Show of Solidarity
This announcement coincides with Ukraine’s ongoing struggle against Russian forces in a protracted counteroffensive launched by Kyiv in June. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his recent visit to Kyiv, affirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to bolster Ukraine’s efforts, commending the nation’s significant strides in its counteroffensive.
Blinken also unveiled an extensive aid package, comprising $100 million in foreign military financing, $90.5 million for demining support, $300 million for law enforcement assistance in areas reclaimed from Russia, $206 million in humanitarian aid, and $203 million for reform initiatives and war crimes investigations.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasized that this support from Washington is not charity but rather a pivotal element in Ukraine’s ability to withstand Russia’s aggression.
International Coalition Backing Ukraine
US officials have played a leading role in rallying international support for Ukraine, swiftly forming a coalition in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion last year. This effort has resulted in coordinated aid from numerous countries.
The United States has pledged over $43 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Additionally, Ukraine’s allies have provided critical training to its armed forces, while imposing stringent sanctions on Russia, targeting areas including financial institutions, technology imports, and energy exports.