A Ukrainian general told CNN on Thursday that Ukraine has received a shipment of US cluster bombs, controversial munitions that have a devastating impact on civilians.
“We just got them, we haven’t used them yet, but they can radically change the situation on the battlefield,” Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said.
The Biden administration announced last week that it was sending Ukraine cluster munitions in the form of 155mm artillery shells as part of an $800 million weapons package.
It’s not clear how many have arrived in Ukraine so far, but Pentagon officials have said they will provide “hundreds of thousands” of rounds.
The cluster munitions are being provided using the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows President Biden to ship Ukraine weapons directly from US military stockpiles.
Cluster munitions are a method of dispersing large numbers of tiny bomblets from a rocket, missile or artillery shell that scatters them in mid-flight over a wide area. They are intended to explode on impact but a significant proportion are “duds”, meaning they don’t explode initially – this happens especially if they land on wet or soft ground. They can then explode at a later date on being picked up or trodden on, killing or maiming the victim.
From a military perspective, they can be horribly effective when used against dug-in ground troops in trenches and fortified positions, rendering large areas too dangerous to move around in until carefully cleared. BBC
Submunitions that don’t explode immediately on impact can kill or maim civilians for decades to come, as they have in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, where the US dropped hundreds of millions of bomblets during the Vietnam War. Children are particularly prone to injury as the bomblets can resemble a small toy left in a residential or farmland area and are often picked up out of curiosity.
More than 100 countries, including the UK, France and Germany, have signed an international treaty – the Convention on Cluster Munitions – that outlaws the use or stockpiling of these weapons due to their indiscriminate effect on civilian populations.
Because of their indiscriminate nature, cluster bombs have been banned by over 100 countries. But the US, Ukraine, and Russia are not signatories to the treaty, known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The Biden administration has defended arming Kyiv with the brutal weapons by saying both the US and Ukraine are running out of conventional artillery ammunition. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Ukraine would be “defenseless” without cluster bombs. ZeroHedge