‘Bad Decision All Around’: Ex-Pentagon Officials Blast US Move to Send Ukraine Depleted Uranium
Two former longtime Pentagon officials told Sputnik they would “not have recommended” US President Joe Biden decide to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium rounds, saying it was a “sign of desperation” amid Kiev’s failed counteroffensive, which US officials touted as the final act of the conflict.
On Wednesday, the White House confirmed
it would begin supplying depleted uranium (DU) ammunition to Ukrainian forces despite widespread disapproval of the plan, including from the United Nations.
The DU rounds are for US-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks also bound for Ukraine, and are included in a weapons package with other types of armaments totaling some $175 million in value.
The use of DU in warfare, where it serves as a cheap alternative to tungsten-based armor piercing rounds, is associated with increases in cancer rates in the area. When the round impacts its target, molten bits of the uranium slough off the penetrator, which both allows it to pierce deeper into armor but also deposits its radioactivity into the soil.
“Definitely a bad decision all-around,” Earl Rasmussen, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent over 20 years in the US Army, told Sputnik about the White House’s move. However, he added he did not interpret the move as an escalation per se.
“The UK has already done it, I’m sure it was done in consultation and coordination with the UK as well, and we’re running low on ammunition,” he said of the US military. “Additionally, we’ve had the complete failure, collapse of the counteroffensive, so in a way it’s a sign of desperation.”
“I think it’s a mistake, I would not have recommended it,” Rasmussen added. “The ramifications will be long-lasting: what once was fertile farm ground will be contaminated, there will probably be an increase in cancer rates, and the health of Ukrainian people will definitely be impacted as well, if Iraq is an indication.”
Former senior Pentagon adviser Karen Kwiatkowski told Sputnik that both the US and UK were sending DU shells to Ukraine for which there was, “by their own admission, no accountability for where these will be used and how they’ll be used.”
“This is an escalation, certainly, beyond any justification that we have. It is a danger, not just to the Ukrainians themselves but to the future of Ukraine - the future usability, the future productivity of the country. And why we’re doing it, other than the fact that the United States has them and maybe wants to get rid of these weapons, but other than that, why we’re doing it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I don’t know the solution to it: apparently average, normal people are not involved in the decision-making to send these kinds of weapons into any country, and certainly not into a European country. So, we don’t know what they’re thinking.”
“The consequences, of course, are going to be very expensive - and not just for the Ukrainian people, but the Western investors who expect to go into a post-war Ukraine and rebuild the country. That’s going to be very expensive. I guess American taxpayers will pay for that as well. It’s just an ugly, ugly, dangerous thing,” she urged.
“Our leadership in this country is not something many people understand. Americans don’t understand how these decisions are being made. We’re not consulted. There’s a great deal of separation between the average American and the activities that are pursued by Washington, DC,” she said, adding it was “unfortunate, sad, tragic, and dangerous.”