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Putin mouthpiece says UK’s actions will make Ukraine like wasteland Chernobyl

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Ukraine will be turned into a nuclear wasteland like Chernobyl because of depleted uranium aid sent by the UK, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson has claimed.

Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel on Monday (April 10) that the fact that the British government will provide Ukraine with armour-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium marks a dangerous move.

While depleted uranium ammunition is not considered nuclear weapons, it is a byproduct of the uranium-enrichment process needed to create them – and Rishi Sunak's decision is being framed as an escalation by the Kremlin.

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"The U.K., by supplying depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, wants to turn its territory into a scorched and desolate land," Zakharova wrote, according to TASS.

"No Russian will be spoken there, no Ukrainian will be spoken there, there will only be silence. Like in Pripyat and Chernobyl."

British defense officials have said depleted uranium is "a standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons."

In a statement published by the BBC, the ministry added: "The British Army has used depleted uranium in its armor piercing shells for decades.

"Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to disinform. Independent research by scientists from groups such as the Royal Society has assessed that any impact to personal health and the environment from the use of depleted uranium munitions is likely to be low."

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The shells are for use in the Challenger 2 main battle tanks also donated by the United Kingdom.

“It’s so dense and it’s got so much momentum that it just keeps going through the armour – and it heats it up so much that it catches on fire,” Edward Geist, a nuclear expert at research organisation RAND, told Al Jazeera on the rounds.

Vladimir Putin has warned Russia would “respond accordingly given that the collective West is starting to use weapons with a ‘nuclear component'.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the munitions are “a step toward accelerating escalation”.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the announcement was “another step, and there aren’t so many of them left”.

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