US President Joe Biden has reportedly made the decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine’s armed forces to enable troops to target well-entrenched Russian forces on the front lines.
The US administration is expected to formally announce this action on Friday (July 7) as part of a new military aid package valued at $800million.
Some allies and humanitarian organisations are strongly opposed to the deployment of such weapons and are likely to react strongly to the decision to provide cluster munitions.
Supporters counter that Russia has already used cluster munitions in Ukraine and that the US will only supply munitions with a lower dud rate.
As a result, there will be fewer rounds that go undetonated, lowering the possibility of accidental civilian casualties.
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A cluster bomb is an airborne munition that disperses tiny explosive submunitions, often known as “bomblets”, over a large region. These bomblets may launch simultaneous strikes on troops, equipment, and tanks because of their design.
The munitions will be fired from howitzers and other artillery pieces that the United States and its allies have already sent to Ukraine for use in the ongoing battle.
The precise sort of cluster munition that the US intends to use is based on a 155 mm shell that is frequently employed on the battlefield.
A 2008 treaty — the Convention on Cluster Munitions — banned the production, use and stockpiling of cluster munitions in 108 countries, which noted that munitions often “kill or maim citizens”. Although, the USA, Ukraine and Russia have not signed the treaty.
In a recent investigation, Human Rights Watch said that Ukrainian forces had used cluster munitions, which had caused numerous civilian deaths and serious injuries.
The research also emphasises how heavily Russian forces also used cluster munitions in Ukraine.
The results of the Human Rights Watch research specifically point to Ukrainian troops’ use of cluster munition rocket attacks in and around the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium in 2022, which resulted in numerous civilian casualties.
The group demands that both nations stop using these fundamentally indiscriminate weapons. Furthermore, they stress that no nation should distribute cluster munitions because of the known harm they pose to civilian populations.
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Mary Wareham, acting arms director at Human Rights Watch said: “Cluster munitions used by Russia and Ukraine are killing civilians now and will continue to do so for many years,
“Both sides should immediately stop using them and not try to get more of these indiscriminate weapons.”
From September 19 to October 9, 2022, Human Rights Watch conducted an investigation in Izium and surrounding villages with a focus on Russian crimes against Ukrainian citizens during the Russian occupation.
The documented violations included arbitrary detentions, torture, and executions without trial.
Interviews with more than 100 people were conducted, including those who had experienced abuse, bystanders, emergency service workers, and healthcare professionals.
During the occupation, almost all of them claimed to have seen submunition fragments close to their homes.
Human Rights Watch added that at least eight civilians were killed and 15 others were hurt as a result of Ukrainian cluster munitions rocket attacks in Izium in 2022.
According to a United Nations investigation, these strikes took place in Izium and the surrounding territories, which were subject to cluster munitions attacks by the Ukrainian armed forces between March and September 2022 and were under Russian control from March until early September.
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