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Vladimir Putin, President of Russia arrives during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 4, 2022, in Beijing, China. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — During a joint announcement with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian leader Vladimir Putin broke off from discussion of a deepening bilateral partnership to warn that Russia will be “forced to react” to news the U.K. is supplying depleted uranium shells to Ukraine. 

His remarks refer to the British plans to send Challenger 2 tanks along with a type of shell which makes use of depleted uranium, a byproduct of nuclear processing, and one which has been described by the United Nations Environment Program as a “chemically and radiologically toxic heavy metal.”

Depleted uranium was widely suspected to have been the cause of the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome, a still-unexplained malady suffered by up to 25 percent of coalition troops in a theater which saw extensive use of depleted uranium ammunition. Studies have vindicated its use, disclaiming any link between the use of dense nuclear waste and the large-scale outbreak of a hitherto unknown disease, for which there is still no agreed cause. 

Despite many reports to the contrary, it is rare for the Russian president to use the n-word. With the world’s largest nuclear arsenal at his disposal, President Putin is customarily careful to refer to this armory of Armageddon obliquely. It is noteworthy therefore that he refers to the armor-piercing sabot rounds as containing “a nuclear component” then going on to assure the world that Russia will respond. 

If all this happens, Russia will have to respond accordingly, given that the West collectively is already beginning to use weapons with a nuclear component.

Whilst the Russian president did not explain his remarks, it is safe to assume he is not referring to a sternly worded email to the U.K. Defense Minister. The British response has been to dismiss these concerns and the gravity of the terms in which they were expressed, handwaving away the Russian position as a piece of propaganda. 

In a statement issued Tuesday, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said the shells were “nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities…Russia knows this, but is deliberately trying to disinform.”

The exchange, such as it is, typifies the role of perception in this very modern war. The Russians are determined to make their point, which is not that sabot tank rounds are nuclear weapons. It is that their tolerance of Western escalation has a limit. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the U.K.’s move was another step towards a nuclear exchange. 

“Another step has been taken, and there are fewer and fewer left,” he said. 

The importance of the Russian president’s riposte may be reflected in Russian military doctrine, which, whilst maintaining that Russia would never strike first in a strategic nuclear exchange, reserves the right to use smaller tactical nuclear weapons in conventional battle. Its nuclear doctrine was changed in 2014, marking what most analysts agree was a lowering of the nuclear threshold.

The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat. [Emphasis added]

The Russians have repeatedly claimed that the aim of the West is the destruction of Russia. Talk of regime change, of Soros’ Russia Project, and of the casual mention of Putin being replaced would all suggest the Russian state is indeed under threat. That, of course, and the fact that NATO is fighting a proxy war to destabilize them. This is a dangerous game. 

In a remarkable post on Telegram, former Russian President and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev warned the International Criminal Court that “Alas, gentleman, everyone walks under God and rockets,” before going on to say that a Russian missile strike on the court in The Hague could not be stopped. 

“It is quite possible to imagine the targeted use of a hypersonic Oniks [missile] fired from a Russian warship in the North Sea strikes the court building in The Hague. It can’t be shot down, I’m afraid,” he warned. “So… look carefully into the sky.”

The Russians have changed their tune. It appears they are no longer willing to accept the terms of the former unipolar order – a shift in attitude which bespeaks of the confidence they find in their new de facto alliance. 

The British position is a wink tipped at the media, the West being concerned with winning the information war – whilst victory in the ground campaign looks ever more remote. 

What might prompt a shift in tone by the Russians is their newfound friendship with the world’s largest manufacturing base. China supplies a market for Russian minerals, and has the manpower to combine with Russian nuclear might to present a serious and credible threat to the West.  

The Chinese have placed no limits on their partnership with Russia. They are subject to a similar predicament, with the U.S. warning against arming the Russians as U.S. weapons and military aid is sent to Taiwan. The patience of the new and rival global pole is wearing thin.