Russia has issued a chilling threat to Britain over plans to send more ammunition to Ukraine, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also warning there are “fewer and fewer steps” to a nuclear collision. Vladimir Putin, speaking after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, warned Russia would be “forced to respond” if Britain gives more military aid to Ukraine – including armour-piercing ammunition which contains depleted uranium.
He said: “The United Kingdom announced not only the supply of tanks to Ukraine, but also shells with depleted uranium.
“If this happens, Russia will be forced to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component.”
This warning was followed by one from Russian Defence Minister Shoigu.
The Russian Defence Minister was asked if the move from Britain means the world is closer to a nuclear collision, to which he replied: “It was not by chance that I told you about steps. There are fewer and fewer.”
Shoigu was also asked about the issue of uranium ammunition, and said: “Naturally, Russia has something to answer this with.”
Depleted uranium is seen as a huge advantage for armies as it is used in weapons and can help easily penetrate enemy tanks and armour.
It is around 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium, but is also huge toxic and can heavily impact on people’s lungs and vital organs.
Earlier today, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the plan as the “Yugoslavia scenario”.
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These warnings from Russia come after a statement from UK Defence Minister Annabel Goldie on Monday when she was asked if “any of the ammunition currently being supplied to Ukraine contains depleted uranium”.
She wrote: “Alongside our granting of a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, we will be providing ammunition including armour piercing rounds which contain depleted uranium.
“Such rounds are highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armoured vehicles.”
Last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stood alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a joint press conference in London and said four Challenger 2 tanks would be sent to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Xi Jinping has been in Moscow holding talks with Putin – a move that has infuriated the West.
The Chinese President said: “We signed a statement on deepening the strategic partnership and bilateral ties which are entering a new era.”
Beijing had previously outlined a 12-point peace plan to end the year-long war in Ukraine that would result in a ceasefire on both sides but would also mean a territorial loss for Ukraine.
Elsewhere, Ukraine has also invited China to hold talks with it and is awaiting an answer from Beijing.
Mr Zeensky said during a press conference: “We offered China to become a partner in the implementation of the peace formula.
“We passed over our formula across all channels. We invite you to dialogue. We are waiting for your answer.
The Ukrainian President then added: “We are receiving some signals, but there are no specifics yet”.