Cluster bombs promised by the US and other countries to Ukraine have already been received by the Kyiv government, the Pentagon said today.
“There are cluster munitions in Ukraine right now,” Lieutenant General Douglas Sims, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Operations, told a press conference.
In addition, he assured that Kyiv received this ammunition from third countries before the United States delivered its part, Sputnik reports.
However, he did not specify whether Ukrainian troops had already used them.
Last week, US President Joe Biden said Washington would supply Ukraine with cluster bombs on a temporary basis, while the US industrial base produces more 155mm artillery shells.
The Democratic President explained that he had consulted with Washington’s allies and partners about his decision, and that they understood the reason.
A cluster bomb, also known as a “cluster”, dispersal or fragmentation bomb, is a weapon that can be launched in free fall by aircraft, artillery, and rockets.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), it contains a device that expands in the air and releases hundreds of small mini-bombs that are scattered over a radius of up to 400 meters.
The United States sees these weapons as a way to provide Kyiv with urgently needed ammunition to support its offensive and break through the Russian front line.
US leaders debated the issue for months before Biden made his decision.
“Joe Biden should not drag us into World War III by sending cluster munitions to Ukraine – he should try to end the war and stop the terrible death and destruction caused by an incompetent administration,” said former President Donald Trump.
For their part, human rights organizations have criticized Biden’s decision, noting that at least 149 civilians worldwide were killed or injured by these types of weapons in 2021, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor, reports the British newspaper The Guardian.
Biden called the decision to supply the shells “very difficult,” citing his track record of killing civilians.
More than 120 countries, but not the US, Russia or Ukraine, have signed an international convention banning the production of cluster munitions and recommending against their use.
Both Moscow and Kyiv used such munitions during the war, and Ukrainian regional authorities regularly accused Russian forces of using them against civilians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday thanked Biden for US military assistance, saying that the supply of the controversial cluster munitions would help Ukraine fight against Russia.
The two met during a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Lithuania, at which Western countries pledged to supply weapons and ammunition to fight the Russian invasion.
Meanwhile, Russia today warned that “the possible use of cluster bombs in the conflict changes the situation and, of course, forces Russia to take certain countermeasures.”
The warnings issued by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov came after the Lithuanian summit. (Telam)