Ukraine’s Use of US-Supplied Cluster Munitions in Counteroffensive Against Russia Stirs Outrage and Raises Concerns

In an ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, controversial cluster munitions supplied by the United States are reportedly being used by Ukrainian forces in their counteroffensive efforts, as confirmed by White House national security spokesman John Kirby. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Kirby stated that the initial feedback from Ukrainian forces indicated they are utilizing the munitions effectively.

The use of cluster bombs has raised concerns due to their high dud rate, resulting in a failure rate of up to 40%, leaving unexploded bomblets scattered on the ground. The United States claims that the cluster munitions provided to Ukraine have a significantly lower failure rate, at less than 2.35%.

The deployment of cluster bombs itself is not a violation of international law, but using them against civilians can potentially constitute a war crime. The situation calls for careful assessment of the legitimacy of targets and measures taken to avoid civilian casualties.

While over 120 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, committing not to use, produce, transfer, or stockpile such weapons, notable nations like the US, Russia, and Ukraine have not signed the agreement.

Cluster munitions have been observed in multiple conflicts, including instances involving US forces. In Ukraine, both Moscow and Kyiv have reportedly employed these weapons during the 17-month conflict, which Russia refers to as a “special military operation.” In addition, Syria’s civil war witnessed the use of cluster bombs by government troops, often causing harm to civilian targets and infrastructure.

Furthermore, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has been accused of using cluster bombs in their war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, inflicting destruction on the southern Arabian country. The US-led coalition also used these munitions during the invasion of Afghanistan, dropping over 1,500 cluster bombs in the first three years of the conflict.

The use of cluster munitions in various conflicts has triggered outrage from humanitarian groups and allies, highlighting the pressing need for international scrutiny and efforts to mitigate civilian harm during armed conflicts.

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