White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said US President Joe Biden and his advisers made a unanimous decision to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine. Sullivan said Washington had received written assurances from Kyiv that it would use these weapons “with caution” to avoid risk to civilians.
“We have already supplied Ukraine with a historic amount of cluster munitions and are increasing their production domestically, <…> but this process will take time, so it will be important to provide Ukraine with this supply bridge,” said he reporters at a briefing.
The White House national security adviser also noted that Ukraine uses artillery so actively that it is difficult to maintain the necessary rate of shell production.
At the same time, Sullivan acknowledged that the use of cluster munitions poses a threat to civilian lives. He explained that this was precisely why Washington was postponing the decision to transfer these weapons to Kyiv. Ukraine is committed to continue demining the territories where they will be used, the White House adviser added.
On the afternoon of July 6, National Public Radio (NPR) military affairs reporter Tom Bowman tweeted that the United States had decided to hand over cluster munitions to Ukraine and that they would announce it shortly. Later this information The New York Times (NYT) confirmed senior US government official on condition of anonymity.
A cluster bomb is a projectile dropped from the air or launched from the ground, explain at the UN. These munitions explode in the air, releasing dozens and sometimes hundreds of smaller bombs capable of covering an area the size of several football fields. This means that everyone in the area, including civilians, is at risk of being killed or injured. Sometimes these bombs do not explode immediately, allowing them to kill or maim people long after the conflict has ended.
There is an international convention on cluster munitions which entered into force on August 1, 2010. To date, 111 countries have ratified it, 12 others have signed it but not yet ratified it. A total of 123 States declared their commitment to the objectives of the Convention.
The countries that are the biggest producers and owners of cluster munitions – the United States, Russia, China – have not signed the convention. India, Pakistan, Israel, South Korea and Ukraine have also refused to accept the treaty, considering them effective and necessary weapons.
In March 2023, Kyiv asked the United States for MK-20 cluster bombs, each of which fired over 240 submunitions. As House Armed Services Committee member Adam Smith explained, the Ukrainian military was going to drop them from drones on Russian troops, believing that these projectiles have “better armor-piercing capability” than the Ukrainian military currently uses. .
Human Rights Watch (HRW) July 6 warned United States to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine. He said this would “inevitably lead to prolonged suffering for the civilian population” and undermine international efforts to make the use of such weapons unacceptable. HRW says Ukrainian and Russian forces are already using cluster munitions, which have caused “many” civilian casualties. Against the supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine were also Germany And UN.
The Convention on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions was adopted in 2008, but neither the United States, nor Ukraine, nor Russia have joined it.
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