May 20, 2024

Since the onset of the Russian invasion in February 2022, the US government has announced a total of $43 billion in military aid.

The US-NATO-EU and Russia imperialist confrontation is sharpening. As of Thursday, the US aims to inject fresh “momentum” into the Ukrainian Armed Forces through a new wave of military assistance to Kiev. This assistance package, which includes depleted uranium munitions, was unveiled in Kyiv by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It forms part of a broader additional aid allocation totaling $1 billion, geared towards bolstering Ukraine’s “evolving counteroffensive efforts”.

The use of depleted uranium has been seen in various imperialist conflicts in recent decades such as in the Balkans as well as the First and Second Gulf Wars. Both the United States and the United Kingdom deployed limited quantities of depleted uranium munitions during the First Gulf War. However, the United States employed a relatively larger quantity.

Depleted uranium is a hazard for both soldiers and nearby civilians. When munitions containing depleted uranium hit a target, the uranium turns into dust particles that can be breathed in by soldiers in the vicinity of the explosion. Wind can carry this dust to neighboring areas, contaminating local water sources and agricultural land. The health effects include lung damage or lung cancer, poor kidney functioning, and impacts on hormones. 

During his visit’s second day, Secretary Blinken toured a state border guard facility on the outskirts of Kiev. There, he inspected US-donated surveillance drones, four Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and several downed Russian drones.

Subsequently, he visited a Ukrainian demining center, a pivotal entity in Ukraine’s efforts to reclaim occupied territories. According to the State Department, the US has contributed over $95 million to support Ukraine’s demining endeavors.

Secretary Blinken concluded his visit to Ukraine, where he received briefings on frontline developments and observed the utilization of US-provided military support by Ukrainian forces.

The $1 billion package announced by Blinken encompasses various components, including new weaponry drawn from the US Armed Forces arsenal. The package allocates $300 million for “security” in reclaimed territories, $206 million for “humanitarian aid,” $200 million to reinforce local institutions, $90 million for minefield clearance and explosive ordnance disposal, and $100 million for future military equipment acquisitions.

Notably, $175 million worth of weaponry is slated to be supplied from the Pentagon’s arsenal. This inventory encompasses 120 mm shells with depleted uranium intended for American tanks, including the “Abrams,” which are expected to reach Kiev in the Fall. The package also covers ammunition for HIMARS multiple launch systems, artillery shells, anti-tank systems, communications equipment, and more.

This marks the first instance of the US revealing its intention to furnish Kiev with depleted uranium munitions. These munitions are known for their armor-penetrating capabilities. In addition, two months ago, the US made headlines as the first nation to supply Ukrainian armed forces with cluster bombs.

Moscow reacted vehemently to the announcement of the impending delivery of depleted uranium ammunition. The Russian embassy in Washington decried it as an act of “inhumanity,” emphasizing the danger of “mobile radioactive plumes” through the detonation of such weapons. They asserted that the US was unwilling to acknowledge the futility of the so-called “Ukrainian counteroffensive” and was prepared to “sacrifice future generations.”

The Kremlin highlighted that the US would be held accountable for the “highly regrettable” repercussions of its decision, citing past use of such munitions as having resulted in an “alarming surge” in cancer cases.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister S. Ryabkov reiterated Moscow’s warnings regarding the potential outbreak of nuclear conflict due to Western “pressure” on Russia. He cautioned that this pressure teetered perilously on the brink of a direct armed confrontation between nuclear-armed states. Furthermore, Ryabkov highlighted that the development of tactical nuclear weaponry in Belarus was proceeding as planned.

Britain is the only other country to have dispatched depleted uranium munitions several months ago, prompting a stern response from Russia, which issued explicit threats regarding their potential use.

Meanwhile, in Kiev, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an announcement yesterday regarding the release of $5.4 million in “frozen” Russian assets to Ukraine.

In response, Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, stated that the intention of the US to utilize funds confiscated from Russian businessmen under sanctions, for the purpose of assisting Ukraine, is illegal. He indicated that appeals against such actions would be pursued.

Peskov noted that certain Russian businessmen had already lodged appeals against similar measures in several countries, where the courts had deemed them illegal.

“We view this move with utmost disapproval,” emphasized Peskov, underscoring Russia’s position that any confiscation of Russian assets, whether public or private, is regarded as unjust.