Analysis of the News “SHOIGU WARNED UKRAINIANS! NATO soldiers in Kosovo suffered terrifying health conditions caused by URANIUM, serious consequences await you!”

March 2023

As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

SHOIGU WARNED THE UKRAINIANS! “NATO soldiers in Kosovo suffered terrifying Health Conditions caused by URANIUM, serious consequences await you!”

The export of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine is still in focus despite the large number of headlines announcing the imminent and rapid collapse of Ukraine in previous months, alongside the statement of the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus as a response to depleted uranium weaponization.

Tabloid Informer in their news report from Tanjug, quotes Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in regards to the disastrous consequences of using depleted uranium ammunition, which was agreed to be delivered to the Ukrainian army along with British Challenger 2 tanks.

In addition to the undeniable harmfulness of using depleted uranium ammunition, the use of such ammunition cannot be compared to the consequences of using classic nuclear weapons, as Minister Shoigu warns at the end of his statement. This is just another in a series of attempts by the Russian Federation to shift responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine and its further escalation to the side that uses all available and legal means to defend itself.

This topic has been covered in other media too, although in slightly different ways. For instance, the Fakti portal quotes retired American intelligence officer Scott Ritter. Scott presents data related to the wartime use of depleted uranium munitions, however, even though the information he provides is far from being hidden publicly, it appears to be so in the text. In response to the use of such secret weapons, the text refers to Russian deputy colonel Igor Korotchenko, who suggests that this will lead to the use of nuclear weapons.

As in similar examples, the authors try to misuse and then relativize the use of depleted uranium weapons with strategic nuclear weapons that Russia uses to threaten Ukraine from the very beginning of their failure on the front. Nevertheless, it is clear that the use of nuclear weapons falls into a totally separate category of weapons, causing incomparably more serious and catastrophic consequences than any other type of weapon.

In the following article, Fakti cites Oleg Karpovich’s opinion, which contains a number of problematic and inaccurate information. Namely, the author claims that behind this delivery is actually a hidden agenda of the United States, which is trying to place its grains on the European Union market. The question worth asking is why would the USA compete with Ukraine in the delivery of grain to the European Union in the first place, and then, in what way was the sabotage of Ukraine’s grain production planned by the USA?

The answers to the given questions are provided by the narrative according to which Great Britain, in the announced delivery of weapons enriched with depleted uranium, aims to poison the Ukrainian land and thereby disable the production of grain, more specifically wheat, consequently providing the United States with a dominant position in the market. On top of that, the radioactivity caused by the delivery of these weapons would leave permanent scars on Europe, as a result, famine would follow, while the United States would profit from it, Oleg claims. Apart from the fact that the aforementioned plan is logically paradoxical as it would discredit the USA’s own efforts and investments in Ukraine, it is also incorrect when it talks about the critical dependence of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa on Ukrainian wheat.

When we discuss production itself, Ukraine actually ranks seventh globally. First place occupy member states of the European Union, followed by the United States, Australia, Russia, India, and China. Whereas, when we talk about countries with significant imports of wheat from Ukraine, and accordingly the most jeopardized, we single out Egypt, Lebanon, and Libya, as indicated by the studies of the Tahrir Institute. However, even the states at the highest peril from such imports find solutions in alternative countries.

On the other hand, the Webtribune portal provides an analysis by unknown Chinese analysts who equate the delivery of British weapons with nuclear armageddon. They state that the delivery of weapons with depleted uranium will make other countries more tolerant of radioactive weapons, and that this will further trigger a nuclear war, and simultaniously the end of civilization. Essentially, the aforementioned analysis is an attempt to stigmatize the use of all possible means available to the Defense Forces of Ukraine. Comparing it with nuclear armageddon and the end of civilization is completely unreasonable.

What seems to be indicative is that the delivery of weapons itself can create major problems among the already weakened Russian troops, and as such, it can additionally affect the course of the war and the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian forces. On the other hand, bearing in mind the relocation of strategic nuclear weapons from the Russian Federation to Belarus, one can assume that the promotion of this narrative provides a certain kind of alibi for the given activity.

The analysis of Chinese experts is complemented by the so-called “broken window” theory, which implies a potential non-compliance with the international law of war. It is stated that such behavior can result in anarchic behavior on the international stage and potential non-compliance with established rules. Given that the invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine by the Russian Federation is in itself a violation of international law, such arguments often serve the purpose of misleading the readers. Particularly for that reason, the discussion is centered around the methodology of warfare, or the violation of certain war norms, instead of the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

Authors: Đorđe Terek, Tanja Plavšić