US officials reportedly believe the controversial ammo will help Kiev breach Russian defenses
The administration of US President Joe Biden is “actively considering” supplying Ukraine with cluster munitions, which are outlawed in dozens of countries due to the danger they pose to the civilian population, Politico reported on Thursday, citing sources.
According to two unnamed US officials and a person familiar with the matter, the discussion about sending these weapons to Ukraine has recently picked up steam as Kiev’s troops have been struggling to break through Russian defenses amid their ongoing counteroffensive.
Senior US officials believe that cluster munitions “could be one of many tools that makes Ukraine’s campaign more successful,” the report says. While Politico sources indicated that the White House has not made a final decision on the matter, they noted that the administration is closer to approving the shipments than at any point during the conflict.
The ongoing deliberations were also confirmed by CNN, which claimed, citing sources, that should the White House proceed with deliveries, the cluster munitions could be included in the next assistance package for Ukraine next month.
“These would undoubtedly have a significant battlefield impact,” an unnamed US official told the outlet.
Cluster munitions are banned in more than 100 countries because when they explode, they release many small bomblets over a wide area, posing severe risks to civilians. While the US has not prohibited this type of weapon, it has banned exports of cluster bombs with a ‘dud’ rate of more than 1%. While in practice the restriction applies to most of the US’ stockpile, Biden can lift it at any time.
Last autumn, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Washington had “concerns about the use of those kinds of munitions,” citing the current US policies on the matter.
Last week, however, the Pentagon claimed that Ukraine would benefit from using this type of weapon, arguing that it would be helpful in destroying Russian fortifications. This assessment was also shared by a group of Republican lawmakers, who said this March that if Ukraine fails to make significant progress, the reluctance of the Biden administration to supply those arms would be largely to blame.
Commenting on the calls to send the controversial munitions to Kiev, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov had earlier warned that such a move would lead to escalation and undermine NATO’s security.
June 30, 2023 at 12:47PM