US plans to send Ukraine cluster munitions -officials

us-plans-to-send-ukraine-cluster-munitions-officials
US plans to send Ukraine cluster munitions -officials

The United States is planning to send cluster munitions to Ukraine in order to assist in its fight against Russian invaders, according to U.S. officials. This move, while opposed by human rights groups, would provide Ukraine with a powerful new element for its counteroffensive.

An announcement is expected to be made soon regarding a weapons aid package that includes cluster munitions fired by a 155 millimeter Howitzer cannon. Three U.S. officials, speaking anonymously, stated that this measure has been under serious consideration for at least a week.

The White House has stated that the decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine is currently “under active consideration,” but no official announcement has been made yet. President Joe Biden is scheduled to attend a NATO summit in Lithuania next week, where the war in Ukraine is expected to be a dominant topic of discussion.

Human Rights Watch has called on both Russia and Ukraine to cease using cluster munitions and has urged the U.S. not to supply them. The group has cited the weapons’ indiscriminate killing of Ukrainian civilians. Cluster munitions, which are banned by over 120 countries, typically release numerous smaller bomblets that pose a threat to civilians over a wide area. Unexploded bomblets also remain dangerous for years after a conflict ends.

Under a 2009 law, the export of U.S. cluster munitions with a failure rate higher than 1% is prohibited. This effectively covers the entire U.S. military stockpile. However, President Biden has the authority to waive these prohibitions, as former President Trump did in January 2021 to allow the export of cluster munitions technology to South Korea.

Ukraine has been urging members of Congress to press the Biden administration to approve the sending of cluster munitions known as Dual-Purpose Conventional Improved Munitions (DPICM). The Pentagon has stated that the administration is considering sending DPICMs to Ukraine, but only those with a failure rate lower than 2.35%.

The U.S. military believes that cluster munitions would be beneficial for Ukraine. However, their approval for Kyiv has been delayed due to congressional restrictions and concerns among allies, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Currently, the U.S. Army spends over $6 million annually to decommission 155 millimeter cluster artillery shells and other outdated munitions. Sending DPICMs to Ukraine would alleviate the strain on standard 155 millimeter shells, which have been shipped to Kyiv in large quantities.

In addition to cluster munitions, the aid package to be announced is expected to include munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), as well as ground vehicles such as Bradley fighting vehicles and Stryker armored personnel carriers. The total value of the package is estimated to be as high as $800 million. However, the officials caution that the package is still being finalized and may change. The funding for the package will come from U.S. excess inventory, and it will be authorized using Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the transfer of articles and services without congressional approval during emergencies.

This security assistance package would mark the 42nd approved by the United States for Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022, bringing the total aid to over $40 billion.

Ukraine has also been advocating for the acquisition of new Western fighter planes, including F-16s, as part of its counteroffensive efforts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated in an ABC News interview that such equipment would enable them to move faster, save more lives, and hold their ground for a longer period of time.

Efforts led by NATO members Denmark and the Netherlands are underway to train pilots and support staff, maintain aircraft, and ultimately supply F-16s to Ukraine as part of an international coalition.

In conclusion, the United States plans to send cluster munitions to Ukraine to aid in its fight against Russian invaders. This move has drawn opposition from human rights groups but would provide Ukraine with a significant advantage in its counteroffensive. The aid package, which is still being finalized, is expected to include cluster munitions, munitions for HIMARS, and various ground vehicles. The total value of the package could reach $800 million. Additionally, Ukraine is seeking the acquisition of new Western fighter planes, such as F-16s, to further strengthen its capabilities.

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