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Biden will send thousands of cluster bombs to Ukraine as part of an $800 million package

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The United States has decided to send cluster bombs to Ukraine to help his army push back entrenched Russian forces on the front lines, despite the former White House press secretary saying last year that Russia’s use of the bombs was a “war crime.” “.

The Biden administration has been weighing a decision on sending the ammunition since December and is expected to announce Friday that it will send thousands of them as part of a new military aid package worth 800 million dollars.

Cluster munitions explode, dispersing a series of smaller bombs over a wide area, often killing civilians. More than 120 nations have signed a 15-year treaty banning their use, but both Ukraine and Russia have deployed them, and Ukraine’s supplies of all types of munitions are dwindling.

When, five days into the war, Jen Psaki, then White House press secretary, was asked about Russia’s use of cluster munitions, she said: ‘We have seen the reports. If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime.

The White House has now reversed course and is striking down a law that prohibits the transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1 percent. Some with a higher failure rate will be sent to Ukraine.

This aerial photo taken on December 7, 2022 shows an expert from the prosecutor’s office examining the collected debris of shells and missiles used by the Russian military to attack Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

Countries shown in white have not signed the convention banning the production and use of cluster munitions: bombs that explode and scatter bomblets, often injuring and killing civilians.

Countries shown in white have not signed the convention banning the production and use of cluster munitions: bombs that explode and scatter bomblets, often injuring and killing civilians.

The decision was made at a meeting of senior national security officials last week, The New York Times informed.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was one of the last to oppose the idea, but has grudgingly accepted that weapons are essential to help Ukraine win the war.

The White House hoped that Ukraine’s summer offensive would be so successful that it was no longer needed.

But Volodymyr Zelensky has argued that cluster munitions are the best way to kill the Russians who are dug in trenches and blockading Ukraine’s counteroffensive to retake territory.

The decision is likely to face strong criticism from US allies, who oppose its use.

Cluster munitions are banned in almost all of Western Europe; all Central American countries; and most of sub-Saharan Africa.

In the 1980s, the Russians made heavy use of cluster bombs during their 10-year invasion of Afghanistan. As a result of decades of war, the Afghan countryside remains one of the most mined countries in the world.

The United States has used cluster munitions in every major war since Korea, but no new ones are believed to have been produced for years.

The United States last used its cluster munitions in a battle in Iraq in 2003, and decided not to continue using them as the conflict moved to more urban settings with denser civilian populations.

Up to 4.7 million cluster projectiles, rockets, missiles, and bombs, containing more than half a billion submunitions or bomblets, remain in military inventories, according to Human Rights Watch estimates drawn from Defense Department reports.

Cluster munitions (pictured) are banned in more than 100 countries after they ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted in Dublin, Ireland, in May 2008

Cluster munitions (pictured) are banned in more than 100 countries after they ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was adopted in Dublin, Ireland, in May 2008

A woman in Kharkiv is seen on Thursday looking at the remains of her destroyed building.

A woman in Kharkiv is seen on Thursday looking at the remains of her destroyed building.

A damaged apartment building in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, seen on Thursday.

A damaged apartment building in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, seen on Thursday.

A woman looks at a missile casing in Kharkiv Oblast.

A woman looks at a missile casing in Kharkiv Oblast.

The US will now have to carefully assess the ‘failure rate’ of the munitions they plan to send. Some of your existing cluster munitions have a dangerously high rate, meaning they don’t explode and therefore stay in the ground until someone, often a civilian, stumbles upon them.

the washington post reported Thursday that the standard “failure rate” level of one percent would be overturned, meaning munitions with a higher probability of malfunction can be shipped to Ukraine, given demand and urgency.

Critics said the decision would cost lives.

“It is disheartening to see the long-established standard of 1 percent unexploded ordnance for cluster munitions reversed, as this will result in more failures, meaning an even greater threat to civilians, including deminers,” said Mary Wareham, arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

“The lack of transparency about how this number was reached is disappointing and appears unprecedented.”

Proponents argue that Russia has already been using the controversial weapon in Ukraine and that the ammunition the US will provide has a reduced dull rate, meaning there will be far fewer unexploded rounds that can lead to unwanted civilian deaths.

Pentagon spokesman US Air Force Brig.  General Patrick Ryder speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Pentagon spokesman US Air Force Brig. General Patrick Ryder speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The munitions are delivered by the same artillery weapons that the US and its allies have already provided Ukraine for the war, such as howitzers, and the type of cluster munition the US plans to send is based on a common projectile. 155mm rifle that is already widely in use across the battlefield.

The cluster bomb is an attractive option because it would help Ukraine destroy more targets with fewer projectiles, and since the United States hasn’t used them in conflicts since Iraq, it has large amounts in stock that it can access quickly, said Ryan Brobst, a research analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

A March 2023 letter from top House and Senate Republicans to the Biden administration urged the White House to send the munitions to ease pressure on American war supplies.

“Cluster munitions are more effective than unitary artillery shells because they deal damage over a wider area,” Brobst said.

“This is important for Ukraine as they try to clear heavily fortified Russian positions.

The use of cluster bombs itself does not violate international law, but using them against civilians may be a violation.

As with any attack, determining a war crime requires analyzing whether the target was legitimate and whether precautions were taken to avoid civilian casualties.

“However, the part of international law where this begins to play (a role) is indiscriminate targeting of civilians,” Human Rights Watch associate director for weapons Mark Hiznay told The Associated Press.

‘So that’s not necessarily related to weapons, but to the way weapons are used.

Russian forces have used cluster bombs in Ukraine on several occasions, according to Ukrainian government leaders, observers and humanitarian groups.

And human rights groups have said that Ukraine has used them too.

Ukrainian servicemen fire a tank at Russian troops near a front line in Kharkiv on Thursday.

Ukrainian servicemen fire a tank at Russian troops near a front line in Kharkiv on Thursday.

During the early days of the war, there were repeated instances of Russian cluster bombs cited by groups including Human Rights Watch, including when they fell near a preschool in the northeastern city of Okhtyrka.

The open-source intelligence group Bellingcat said its investigators found cluster munitions in that attack, as well as multiple cluster attacks in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, also in the northeast.

Most recently, in March, a Russian drone and missile barrage hit several urban areas, including a sustained bombardment in Bakhmut, in the eastern Donetsk region.

Just west of there, shelling and missile attacks hit the Ukrainian-controlled city of Kostiantynivka, and AP journalists in the city saw at least four wounded being taken to a local hospital.

Police said Russian forces attacked the city with S-300 missiles and cluster munitions.

Just a month later, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko accused Russian forces of attacking a town with cluster munitions, injuring one person.

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