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Ukraine expresses gratitude to the United States for the recently provided aid, which includes prohibited cluster bombs

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the United States on Friday for agreeing to a new defense package that includes internationally banned and controversial cluster bombs, which can cause serious and indiscriminate civilian casualties, for sending to Kiev, amid the ongoing war with Russia.

The move drew sharp criticism from rights groups over the danger posed by unexploded bomblets even after the conflict ends.

“A much-needed, broad-based and timely defense aid package from the United States,” Zelensky said on social media, thanking the American people and Biden for their “decisive steps.” “Expanding Ukraine’s defense capabilities will provide new tools to end the occupation of our land and bring peace closer,” he said.

However, US President Joe Biden said it was a very difficult decision to give Ukraine cluster munitions in an interview with CNN.

Asked why he was providing cluster munitions now, Biden told reporters it was because the defense effort against Russia had “run out of ammunition.”

Washington’s decision to hand over the controversial weapons — banned in much of the world but not in Russia or Ukraine — dramatically raises the stakes in the war, which enters its fifth day on Saturday.

Human rights groups have strongly opposed the US provision of the munitions.

“The transfer of these weapons will inevitably lead to long-term suffering for civilians and undermine the international opprobrium that opposes their use,” Human Rights Watch said.

Amnesty International said the Biden administration “must understand that any decision authorizing the wider use of cluster bombs in this war will likely lead to one predictable outcome: more civilian deaths”.

She added, “Cluster munitions are an indiscriminate weapon that poses a serious threat to civilian lives, even long after the conflict has ended. Their transfer and use by any country under any circumstances is contrary to international law.”

Zelensky has been traveling across Europe and working on phones trying to secure bigger and better weapons for his superior army, which has launched a long overdue counteroffensive and is advancing less quickly than Ukraine’s allies had hoped.

“Without long-range weapons it is difficult not only to carry out an offensive mission, but frankly it is difficult to carry out a defensive operation,” Zelensky told reporters as he was traveling between Bratislava, Prague and Istanbul on Friday.

Biden’s decision to approve the delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine provides weapons capable of dispersing many small explosives over an area covering several football fields.

AFP teams on the ground have seen both Ukraine and Russia use their existing stockpiles of weapons, the use of which humanitarian organizations strongly condemn.

They warn that many of the bomblets fail to detonate, which could endanger civilians for years to come.

Defending the US move, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said there was “an enormous risk of harm to civilians if Russian forces and tanks turn on Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian territory”.

Russian officials did not issue an immediate response.

“We consulted very closely with the Allies to make the decision to do this, and some of the Allies, who had not signed the Oslo Accords, accepted it, and that’s exactly the right thing to do,” Sullivan said in a press briefing in defense of Oslo. resolution.

He said Ukraine had given written assurances that the munitions would be used “in a very careful manner, aimed at minimizing any danger to civilians”.

Sullivan stressed that the United States will not leave Ukraine “defenseless” in the conflict with Russia.

Sullivan said: “Ukraine will not use these munitions on some foreign land. This is their country that they are defending.”

It also acknowledged the potential risk of harm to civilians from unexploded ordnance from cluster munitions.

“That is why we have delayed the decision as long as possible. But there is also a great risk of harm to civilians if Russian troops and tanks turn on Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian land and subjugate more Ukrainian civilians, because Ukraine is doing that. We don’t have enough Artillery. This is intolerable for us.”

Shortly after Sullivan’s remarks, the Pentagon indicated that Russia had been using cluster munitions indiscriminately since the start of the war to attack Ukraine.

“By contrast, Ukraine is seeking dual-purpose conventional enhanced munitions rounds in order to defend its sovereign territory,” Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told reporters at the Pentagon.

He said that the rounds of ammunition that the United States will provide to Ukraine have low miss or failure rates, adding that “the rounds of ammunition we provide to Ukraine will only consist of those with an explosive rate of less than 2.35%.”

Kahl said that Russia is using cluster munitions throughout Ukraine with explosive rates of between 30% and 40%.

The provision of cluster munitions was announced as part of the forty-second draw to Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday’s package also includes additional precision air munitions, ammunition for multiple launch rocket systems, 155mm howitzers, 155mm and 105mm artillery ammunition, air defense ammunition, anti-tank missiles and rockets, and more Bradley vehicles. Armored Striker. and other essential equipment to strengthen Ukraine’s brave forces on the battlefield and help them reclaim Ukraine’s sovereign territory and defend its citizens.

“This package contains significant security assistance totaling $800 million in weapons and equipment from DoD stockpiles,” Blinken said.

The senior US diplomat confirmed that Moscow started the war against Ukraine and that it “could end it at any time by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine and stopping its brutal attacks against Ukraine’s cities and people.”

A 2009 US law prohibits the export of US cluster munitions with bomblet failure rates greater than 1%, which cover nearly all of the US military stockpile. Biden waived the ban on the munitions, just as his predecessor Donald Trump did in 2021 to allow the export of cluster munition technology to South Korea.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had earlier indicated his understanding of the US decision, before it was officially announced.

“We are facing a brutal war,” he said, noting that both sides were using cluster bombs.

“Russia uses cluster munitions to attack and invade Ukraine. Ukraine uses cluster munitions to protect itself from an aggressor,” he said.

Stoltenberg said it was up to individual allies to decide which weapons and equipment to send to Ukraine.

The Pentagon did not disclose more details about the delivery date or the quantity of the shipments.

The United States says it has hundreds of thousands of the projectiles in storage.

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