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Amid reports that the Biden administration is planning to supply Ukraine with cluster bombs in its war against Russia’s invasion, an international humanitarian rights group is urging Biden to reconsider the move.
Since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor more than a year ago, both Russia and Ukraine have already used cluster bombs in their efforts to overpower the other.
Cluster bombs, which break apart in the air into smaller bomblets, are meant to detonate on impact, but they don’t always, which causes a risk to civilians years after a war has ended. More than 120 nations have signed a treaty not to use the devices, according to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The U.S., Russia and Ukraine have all declined to sign on to the agreement.
“Ukrainian forces have used cluster munitions that caused numerous deaths and serious injuries to civilians, Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international organization that investigates and reports on human rights abuses across the globe, said in a report on Thursday. “Russian forces have extensively used cluster munitions in Ukraine, killing many civilians and causing other serious civilian harm.”
U.S. unlikely to heed HRW warnings against cluster bombs
Meanwhile, the White House said on Thursday its plans to supply Ukraine with the deadly weapons are under “active consideration,” Reuters reported.
Human Rights Watch is urging Biden not to send the weapons to Ukraine.
“Transferring these weapons would inevitably cause long-term suffering for civilians and undermine the international opprobrium of their use,” Human Rights Watch said.
U.S. officials are already defending the planned move by saying any cluster bombs delivered to Ukraine would have a reduced “dud rate”, meaning less of a chance of accidentally killing civilians.
As of April, at least 354,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have died since the beginning of the war, according to U.S. intelligence documents. And according to the German research institute, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the United States has given over $75 billion in aid to Ukraine since February 2022.