Conflicts & War

US to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine

Washington, Jul 7 (EFE).- President Joe Biden’s administration said Friday that the United States government it will supply Ukraine with cluster munitions for use against Russian invaders, a move opposed by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and even NATO allies such as Germany.

“We recognize that cluster munitions create a risk of civilian harm from unexploded ordnance,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House. “This is why we’ve deferred the decision for as long as we could.

Neither the US, Russia, nor Ukraine are among the more than 100 nations that signed the 2008 Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use of such weapons.

But for the last seven years, the US Congress has written restrictions on the transfer of cluster bombs to other countries into Pentagon appropriations bill, though the president can bypass those limits.

“First, we base our security assistance decision on Ukraine’s needs on the ground, and Ukraine needs artillery to sustain its offensive and defensive operations,” Sullivan said. “Artillery is at the core of this conflict. Ukraine is firing thousands of rounds a day.”

The cluster munitions, configured as artillery shells for the 155 mm howitzers previously given to Ukraine, are part of an $800 million arms package.

Each shell holds 72 grenade-sized charges that extend across an area of approximately 22,500 sq m.

Cluster munitions pose risks to civilians both due to the dispersion of ordnance inherent in the concept and because they fail to explode at a high rate, which means that they can lie on the ground for years and then detonate when someone walks over them.

Sullivan said that the munitions the US will supply to Ukraine will have a “dud” rate below 2.5 percent, while accusing the Russians of using their own type of cluster munitions with a failure rate of between 30 and 40 percent.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged both the Russians and the Ukrainians to stop using cluster munitions in the conflict that began in February 2024.

On Thursday, HRW publicly appealed to Washington not to deliver cluster munitions to Ukraine.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Friday that Berlin is opposed to the idea.

“I have followed the information in the media. For Germany, the Oslo treaty applies,” Baerbock said on the eve of a climate change conference in Vienna.

EFE

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