• Russia Blows Up Ukrainian Arms Depot Prompting Concerns About Depleted Uranium

    May 16, 2023
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    In a May 14 briefing, the Russian Defense Ministry said that its forces had executed a strike on a Ukrainian munitions depot in the western city of Khmelnytskyi that resulted in a massive explosion followed by an apocalyptic fireball.

    “One AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] ammunition depot has been destroyed close to Khmelnytskyi,” the Russian Defense Ministry said during its briefing. The city was also the target of strikes in February and is located approximately 170 miles southwest of Kyiv.

    According to Ukraine’s Energy Ministry, a “massive” series of Russian assaults damaged energy infrastructure in Khmelnytskyi early on the morning of May 13. However, the ministry confirmed that the local power supply was not affected by the attack.

    Multiple drones had reportedly targeted “critical infrastructure” according to the local military administration.

    Oleksandr Symchyshyn, the mayor of Khmelnytskyi, said that residential buildings, schools, and industrial complexes were damaged in what he called a “terrorist attack.”

    According to a Telegram post by Symchyshyn, the Russian assaults left several civilian residents wounded and also destroyed a Ukrainian storage facility in Ternopil.

    Not long after the strike in Khmelnytskyi, a video circulated around Russian social media that showed a massive explosion at a facility which resulted in a large fireball and a billowing black plume of smoke rising from the ground. Zerohedge has reported that while the video of the explosion has yet to be verified as authentic, concerns are already mounting that the targeted facility housed UK-supplied munitions containing depleted uranium.

    In March, the UK agreed to provide Kyiv with depleted uranium shells for the Challenger 2 combat tanks that it was sending to Ukraine – 14 of which have already been delivered.

    Despite posing health risks to humans and the environment, depleted uranium shells are often used in combat as their high density allows them to penetrate heavy armor.

    After the UK’s announcement that it would be providing such shells to Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned that the effects of using depleted uranium munitions would be “impossible to control,” with Putin vowing to “respond accordingly” should such munitions be used in battle.

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    Now, there are rumors circulating on Ukrainian social media that the explosion in Khmelnytskyi could lead to the release of depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere. There have also been reports of spiking radiation levels in the areas near the explosion although such reports remain unverified.

    Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to use the strike and explosion as fodder to request more weapons and military aid for Ukraine from Western leaders as he continues a tour of Europe this week.

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    Jen Snow

    Jen Snow is a former paralegal turned freelance writer who has a passion for foreign affairs. When not writing, she can be found curled up with her dog and a good book or outside playing in the Florida sun.
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