Controversial US cluster munitions delivered to Ukraine amid concerns over civilian risk

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Despite the long-term risks of cluster-munitions, the US delivered the bombs to Ukraine last week — AFP/Files

The Ukrainian armed forces have received cluster munitions from the United States as part of the support pledged to Kyiv in its counter-offensive against the Russian invasion, according to a senior army official.

Ukrainian army commander Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said in an interview with CNN that while they have received the cluster bombs, they have not yet been used on the battlefield. He believes that these munitions can have a significant impact on the ongoing conflict.

Despite concerns about the long-term risk to civilians, the United States decided to deliver cluster bombs to Ukraine last week. Tarnavskyi emphasized that Ukrainian forces would not deploy these weapons in heavily populated areas. He explained that the Russians have a misconception that Ukraine intends to use them across the entire front, which he stated is incorrect.

US President Joe Biden acknowledged that the decision to provide cluster munitions was challenging but emphasized that Ukraine needed additional ammunition to replenish its depleted stocks. 

It is important to note that cluster munitions are controversial due to their ability to disperse multiple small explosive charges that can remain unexploded on the ground, posing risks to civilians even after the conflict is over. 

Many countries, particularly Europe, have banned these weapons under the 2008 Oslo Convention. However, it is worth mentioning that Russia, US and Ukraine are not signatories to this convention.

The Kremlin has expressed that it will take “countermeasures” if Ukraine deploys these cluster munitions against its troops. The situation remains tense as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues.

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