Ukraine receives cluster munitions from US amid international criticism News
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Ukraine receives cluster munitions from US amid international criticism

The Ukrainian armed forces confirmed Thursday they received cluster munitions sent by the US. Tavria Region defense spokesman Valery Shershen confirmed the delivery to Radio Free Liberty in Ukraine amidst international condemnation of the US’s decision to provide the weapons.

Following US President Joe Biden’s July 7 announcement that the US would provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced Ukraine would follow five key principles in deploying the munitions. Ukraine claims they will only use the cluster munitions “for the de-occupation of [their] internationally recognised territories.” In addition, Ukraine said they would not use the cluster munitions in urban areas, which they would assure by keeping a strict record of used munitions. Ukraine also stated they would de-mine areas where munitions are used after the de-occupation of the territories and report to their partners about the ongoing use of munitions.

Despite reassurances from Ukraine, at least 11 countries along with the International Committee for the Red Cross and UN Secretary-General António Guterres have expressed concern over the US’s July 7 decision. Included among the countries that have expressed concern are US allies such as Canada, Germany, Italy and the UK. Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Laos, New Zealand, Norway and Spain also voiced concern.

In a press briefing shortly after news of the US’s decision broke on July 7, Guterres’s spokesperson Farhan Haq stated, “[T]he Secretary-General supports the Convention on Cluster Munitions, … And so, as a result, of course, he does not want there to be continued use of cluster munitions on the battlefield.”

All of the countries listed above who expressed concern, except for Cambodia, are signatories to the convention Haq referenced. As a result of signing the convention, countries are barred from using, producing, transferring or stockpiling cluster munitions.

During a Tuesday press briefing, US Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that she was still confident in the strength of US alliances, despite the public pushback. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also underscored the US’s claim that providing Ukraine with cluster munitions is only a “temporary” solution. Sullivan explained, “Once [unitary round production] hits a level where [it] can satisfy Ukraine’s needs, then there will be no need to continue giving cluster munitions.”

Over the past two days, the US has gathered with its allies for a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. While various world leaders have expressed concern over the US’s decision to provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, Reznikov announced Thursday that Ukraine secured seven more military aid packages from the NATO leaders. Included among those providing military aid such as ammunition and armored vehicles are Canada, Germany, Norway and the UK.