Cluster munitions, first used in World War II, consist of a container that opens in the air, scattering a large number of explosive ‘bombs’ over a wide area. They were originally designed to destroy multiple military targets over a wide area, but also pose a significant danger to civilians during and after an operation.
The United States is not a signatory to the international ban, the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions, but the claim is “complicated for optical reasons” and the risk to civilians from unexploded ordnance left on the battlefield, the person said.
Congress has imposed statutory restrictions on Washington’s ability to transfer cluster munitions, citing the risk to civilians. The President or Secretary of State can override these constraints, but a high standard must be met.
In this case, the United States does not believe that the ammunition Ukraine is asking for – enhanced conventional dual-use ammunition – is necessary for kyiv on the battlefield. Ukraine wants munitions that can be launched from high-mobility artillery rocket systems and 155mm howitzers, according to CNN, which first reported the news.
Human rights organizations have documented Russia’s use of cluster bombs on civilian targets in Ukraine and Syria. Moscow has deployed the weapons, including the 300mm Smerch cluster rockets that launch 72 rounds 90 kilometers, including Kharkiv.
Supplying cluster munitions to Ukraine would be a bad idea, as the United States recently committed $89 million to help Kyiv clear Russian landmines that now litter huge swaths of the country, POLITICO reported. in August.
The money will fund 100 demining teams in Ukraine over the next year and will be used to identify the most contaminated areas and help train and equip Ukrainian forces for mine clearance, officials said at the time.
Kiev estimates that 160,000 square kilometers of land could be contaminated with landmines and other unexploded ordnance – an area roughly the size of Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut combined.
President Joe Biden recently reversed a Trump-era expansion of the use of antipersonnel landmines in most places around the world. But the Pentagon is supplying Ukraine with anti-personnel Claymore munitions, which are considered landmines under the Ottawa treaty in a certain configuration.
However, Claymore ammunition supplied to Ukraine has been configured so that a “person in the know” physically triggers the ammunition, rather than using a tripwire, removing it from the category of landmines, according to a State Department official.
The Pentagon on Friday announced a new $275 million military aid package for Ukraine, including new air defense capabilities. Officials did not specify which systems are being transferred, but said they would be used to counter Russian-launched drones and missiles.
The package also includes additional ammunition for HIMARS, 80,000 155mm artillery rounds, Humvee ambulances and medical equipment, about 150 generators and field equipment, according to the DoD.
In total, the United States has committed $20 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration, including more than $19.3 billion since the invasion.