Russia labeled the German Leopard 2 tanks being delivered to Ukraine as “dirty nuclear bombs,” before warning “the Western sponsors of the Kyiv military machine” against sending the armored vehicles.
Konstantin Gavrilov, the head of the Russian delegation at Vienna’s Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on Military Security and Arms Control forum, said Leopard 2 tanks were equipped with sub-calibre armor-piercing shells with uranium cores. The use of these machines will be considered as the use of “dirty bombs” against Russia, Kremlin-aligned news outlet RIA Novosti said.
“We warn the Western sponsors of the Kyiv military machine against encouraging nuclear provocations and blackmail,” Gavrilov said, according to the Russian BBC editorial office. “We are aware that the Leopard 2 tank, as well as the Bradley and Marder infantry fighting vehicles, are armed with sub-calibre armor-piercing shells with uranium cores, the use of which leads to contamination of the area, as it happened in Yugoslavia and Iraq.”
“If Kyiv is supplied with such shells for NATO heavy military equipment, we will consider it to be the use of dirty nuclear bombs against Russia with all the ensuing consequences,” Gavrilov added.
He also said the Western countries backing Ukraine have forced Germany to make the decision to transfer combat vehicles to Kyiv.
“At first, the allies threatened Berlin with international isolation if it refused to hand over the Leopards. Then, none other than U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price announced ‘good news’ about sending the German ‘beasts’ to Kyiv. This is how transatlantic ‘solidarity’ is forged,” the Russian representative said, according to Pravda.
As the war in Ukraine entered its 12th month, the United States and other Western countries have started preparing to send combat equipment to help boost Kyiv’s efforts in pushing Russian soldiers out of the country.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced 31 Abrams tanks for Ukraine. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week confirmed 14 Challenger-2 tanks will be sent to Ukraine. With Biden’s commitment of 31 Abrams tanks for Ukraine, the total number of Western tanks heading to Kyiv reached 59. However, the number of tanks is far from the 300 that Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky had said his country would need to defeat Russia, Eurasian Times reported.