The UK's Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, dismissed claims of nuclear escalation in the ongoing war in Ukraine. This statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the UK for providing depleted uranium tank munitions to Ukrainian forces.

On Monday, the UK confirmed its decision to supply Ukraine with ammunition containing depleted uranium. Due to its high density and other properties, this heavy metal is utilized in weapons for its ability to penetrate tanks and armor.

However, Putin took issue with the UK's plan to send such ammunition to Ukraine, arguing that Moscow would be compelled to respond accordingly as these weapons possess "a nuclear component". Cleverly countered Putin's statement, asserting that only Russia was discussing increased nuclear risks and that the ammunition in question was purely conventional.

Cleverly stated, "There is no nuclear escalation. The only country in the world that is talking about nuclear issues is Russia. There is no threat to Russia, this is purely about helping Ukraine defend itself."

He further clarified, "It's worth making sure everyone understands that just because the word uranium is in the title of depleted uranium munitions, they are not nuclear munitions, they are purely conventional munitions."

The UK has employed depleted uranium in its armor-piercing shells for decades and does not classify these rounds as having nuclear capabilities. Russia is also known to possess ammunition containing depleted uranium.

Depleted uranium poses a specific health risk near impact sites, where dust can enter people's lungs and vital organs.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the UK of "taking this escalation to a new and very serious stage." Meanwhile, Russia's mission in Geneva charged London with prolonging the conflict and eliminating "no chance for a political and diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian crisis."

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch Putin ally, also criticized the UK's decision, claiming that Russia would respond by supplying Belarus with ammunition containing "real uranium". He warned, "As soon as this ammunition explodes on Russian troops' positions, you will see a fearful response, it will be a lesson for the whole planet."

Lukashenko called for an end to the escalating conflict and a shift towards a peaceful resolution.