HomePoliticsBiden administration has 'concerns' over supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine

Biden administration has ‘concerns’ over supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine

Cluster munitions, first used in World War II, consist of a container that opens in midair and spreads a large number of explosive “bombs” over a wide area. They were initially designed to destroy multiple military targets over a large area, but they also pose a significant danger to civilians during and after an operation.

The United States is not a signatory to the international ban, the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions, but the request is “complicated for optical reasons” and the risk to civilians of unexploded munitions left on the battlefield, the agency said. person.

Congress has placed legal restrictions on Washington’s ability to transfer cluster munitions, citing the risk to civilians. The President or Secretary of State can waive these restrictions, but a high standard must be met.

In this case, the United States does not believe that the munitions Ukraine is asking for (improved conventional dual-purpose munitions) are necessary for kyiv on the battlefield. Ukraine wants ammunition that can be launched from high-mobility artillery rocket systems and 155mm howitzers, according to CNN. who first broke the news.

Human rights organizations have documented Russia’s use of cluster bombs against civilian targets in both Ukraine and Syria. Moscow has deployed the weapons, including Smerch 300mm cluster rockets that launch 72 munitions 90 kilometers, including in Kharkiv.

Providing cluster munitions to Ukraine would be a bad image since the United States has recently committed $89 million to help Kiev clear Russian landmines that now litter large swaths of the country, POLITICO reported in August.

The money will fund 100 mine-clearance teams in Ukraine over the next year and will go towards identifying areas of greatest contamination and helping to train and equip Ukrainian forces for mine-clearing tasks, authorities said at the time.

Kiev believes that 160,000 square kilometers of land may be contaminated by landmines and other unexploded ordnance, an area roughly the size of Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut combined.

President Joe Biden recently reversed a Trump-era expansion of the use of antipersonnel landmines in most places around the world. But the Pentagon is providing Ukraine with Claymore antipersonnel munitions, which are considered landmines under the Ottawa Treaty in a certain configuration.

However, the Claymore munitions that were provided to Ukraine were configured so that a “person in the loop” would physically activate the munitions, rather than using a tripwire, removing them from the category of land mines, according to a State Department official. .

The Pentagon announced a new $275 million military aid package for Ukraine on Friday, including new air defense capabilities. The officials did not specify which systems are being transferred, but said they would be used to counter Russian-launched drones and missiles.

The package also includes additional ammunition for HIMARS, 80,000 155mm artillery shells, humvee ambulance and medical equipment, approximately 150 generators and field equipment, according to the Department of Defense.

In all, the United States has committed $20 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration, including more than $19.3 billion since the invasion.

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