Situation in Ukraine

United States, reportedly, to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine within new military package

by Ilya Tsukanov, Sputnik News

US media reported earlier this week that cluster bombs would be part of a new $800 million military aid package for Ukraine being prepared by the Biden administration.
The Pentagon and the White House have formally signed off on the delivery of cluster munitions to Kiev, ending months of speculation and debate about the deployment of the controversial weapons in the Eastern European country as part of NATO’s ongoing proxy war against Russia.

“Today, the Department of Defense announced additional security assistance to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This package will provide Ukraine with additional artillery systems and ammunition, including highly effective and reliable dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM), on which the administration conducted extensive consultations with Congress and our allies and partners,” the Pentagon said in a statement Friday, using another term for cluster bombs.

“We recognize that cluster munitions create a risk of civilian harm from unexploded ordnance,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in a briefing Friday.
“This is why we’ve deferred the decision for as long as we could. But there is also a massive risk of civilian harm if Russian troops and tanks roll over Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian territory and subjugate more Ukrainian civilians, because Ukraine does not have enough artillery. That is intolerable to us,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the president’s national security team had approved the delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine “unanimously,” and that US President Joe Biden “ultimately decided, in consultation with allies and partners and in consultation with members of Congress to move forward on this step.”

In addition to cluster munitions, the new arms package will include 32 Bradley and 32 Stryker armored vehicles, Patriot air defense systems, AIM-7 missiles and Stingers from the Pentagon’s stocks.
Sullivan assured the delivery of cluster bombs to Kiev does not constitute arming Ukraine to attack Russian territory.

“The United States is not going to war with Russia in Ukraine, and second, the United States is not providing weapons to Ukraine to attack Russia. We do not encourage or enable attacks on Russian territory from Ukraine,” the official said.

Sullivan detailed that cluster bombs sent to Kiev would have a dud rate “not higher than 2.5%.”
US Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl told reporters that Kiev has offered Washington written assurances it “will not use the rounds in civilian-populated urban environments, and that they will record where they use these rounds, which will simplify later demining efforts.”
Kahl further indicated the US intends to deliver cluster munitions to Ukraine “in a timeframe that is relevant for” Ukraine’s stalled counteroffensive, highlighting the matter’s urgency in the Pentagon’s eyes.

‘Alarming’ Escalation

Grigory Karasin, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian Senate, warned that the delivery of cluster munitions to Kiev marks another major escalation of the Ukrainian crisis.

“This is a new step toward the escalation of the situation around Ukraine, to which Russia’s response will be very tough,” Karasin told Sputnik. “I hope that the international community will appreciate the situation, which is becoming more and more alarming and raises serious concerns about where things are headed thanks to the unilateral decisions by Washington and NATO which are incomprehensible” from the standpoint of “absolute common sense,” the senior lawmaker added.

Crimean Senator Sergei Tsekov told Sputnik the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions by Ukraine would threaten widespread casualties among civilians.

Highly Lethal Terror Weapon

Cluster bombs are an extremely lethal weapon containing dozens or hundreds of explosive submunitions, or bomblets, and are designed to maximize damage to enemy forces across an area up to several hundred square meters.
Media first reported on Kiev’s intention to lobby to receive US-made MK-20 cluster munitions in March.

Cluster munitions were banned by over 100 countries, but Ukraine and the US are not parties to the Cluster Munitions Convention (Russia, China, India, Brazil and much of NATO’s eastern flank are also not members).

The US has used cluster munitions extensively in its military operations stretching back nearly six decades, dropping hundreds of millions of devices on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, during the 1991 Gulf War, in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Russian UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia warned this week that the supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine would constitute “another step toward escalating” the Ukrainian crisis.
Military experts and human rights groups have expressed fears about Ukrainian forces using US-provided cluster bombs to terror bomb civilians in the Donbass and elsewhere, as they have already done using other NATO-provided weapons, such as long-range 155 mm artillery systems, HIMARS rockets, and missiles, on tens of thousands of occasions over the past year and a half.
In May, the Joint Center for Control and Coordination watchdog calculated that Ukrainian shelling in the Donbass had killed some 4,527 civilians and injured 4,431 others between February 2022 and May 10, 2023, with more than 100 of the fatalities caused by Ukraine’s indiscriminate use of air-dropped scatterable anti-personnel landmines in civilian areas.
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