US to give Ukraine cluster munitions in $800 million aid package

US to give Ukraine cluster munitions in $800 million aid package

The United States has announced its plan to send cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of an $800 million security package. These munitions are prohibited by over 100 countries but are seen as crucial for Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces. The move is expected to have a significant psychological impact on Russian troops.

Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, made the case for providing these arms to Ukraine, emphasizing the need for Ukraine to reclaim its territory. He acknowledged the risks associated with cluster munitions but argued that the risk of harm to civilians is outweighed by the risk of Russian forces advancing further into Ukrainian territory.

President Biden explained that the decision to provide cluster munitions was due to the depletion of ammunition in Ukraine’s defense against Russia. Cluster munitions are known for their ability to cover a wide area and pose a threat even after a conflict ends. Ukraine has specifically requested these weapons to target Russian positions with dug-in troops.

Sullivan assured reporters that Ukraine has provided written assurances that it will use the cluster munitions carefully to minimize civilian risks. The decision to send these weapons was supported unanimously by the U.S. National Security Council. The security assistance package also includes other weapons and equipment to enhance Ukraine’s defense capabilities.

Human rights groups have criticized the U.S. decision to provide cluster munitions, citing the risks they pose to civilians. The United Nations Secretary-General is also against the continued use of these munitions. Germany, a U.S. ally, opposes sending cluster munitions to Ukraine due to its commitment to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee expressed support for Biden’s move but called for additional weapons, such as the Army Tactical Missile System. A 2009 U.S. law prohibits the export of cluster munitions with high failure rates, but Biden waived these prohibitions to send the munitions to Ukraine.

Ukraine had previously urged U.S. lawmakers to approve the transfer of cluster munitions. The country’s political adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, described the transfer as a significant contribution to the de-occupation process and emphasized the psychological impact it would have on demoralized Russian forces.

Sending cluster munitions will help alleviate the strain on standard shells that the United States has been providing to Ukraine. Sullivan acknowledged the need to bridge the gap until Ukraine can produce enough unitary rounds and stated that cluster munitions would serve as that bridge during the summer and autumn.

In conclusion, the United States’ decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of a security package aims to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russian forces. While there are concerns about the risks to civilians, the urgency to counter Russian aggression is seen as paramount. The move has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Germany, but it has received support from Republicans and Ukrainian officials.

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