Russia has accused Britain of triggering “genocide” by supplying Ukraine with depleted uranium tank shells.
Moscow stepped up its onslaught on London after Vladimir Putin said he “will have to respond properly since the collective West will be using weapons with a nuclear component”.
Britain accused the Russians of “deliberately trying to disinform” over a “standard component and has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or capabilities," a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson said.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back declaring: “The use of ammunition with depleted uranium is a manifestation of genocide of the population against which it is used and the people who use them.”
She said they would cause radioactive damage to “everyone” living in the place where the depleted uranium tank shells are released.
“They receive it, and it’s not a one-time problem…they will live with this forever.”
This was a “scientifically proven fact” based on their use in former Yugoslavia, she alleged.
“This is another British provocation, which aims to bring the situation around Ukraine to a new round of aggression, conflict and confrontation, to give a qualitatively different dimension,” said Zakharova.
Depleted uranium ammunition is being provided to Ukraine by the UK along with Challenger 2 battle tanks. It is made as a by-product of the enrichment process used to make nuclear weapons or fuel.
If the ammunition enters the body it can cause radiation damage, increasing a person's risk of cancer.
Junior Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said in the House of Lords on Monday that the shells would be provided because they are "highly effective in defeating modern tanks and armoured vehicles."
Zakharova's boss foreign minister Sergei Lavrov earlier warned: “I am not surprised by anything because [the British] have already lost their bearings in terms of actions blasting strategic stability across the world…
“Anglo-Saxons, who pull the rest to the collective West with them…want to keep their hegemony with all their might…
“If this is true, then they are ready not only to take risks but to violate international humanitarian law, as they did in 1999 in Yugoslavia and many other things…including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“They took over this organisation called the International Criminal Court [and use it] to blast all imaginable norms of international law….
“If it truly happens, there are no doubts that it will end badly for them.”
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu warned: “Only one thing can be said here: there are not so many steps, another step has been passed, and there are fewer and fewer of them.”
Putin made the comments after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping where they signed an agreement to bring their relationship into a "new era".
Shoigu also echoed Putin's warning and said the world is just mere "steps" away from nuclear disaster.
Shoigu said: "Another step has been taken, and there are fewer and fewer left."