‘Russian victory’ worse than civilian cluster bomb deaths – Pentagon

Cluster munition deliveries to Ukraine could result in civilian casualties, a senior Pentagon official acknowledged on Friday, while stating that fears of Russian success on the battlefield outweigh these concerns.

Speaking to reporters, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl defended the White House’s decision to approve another $800 million security assistance package for Ukraine, which includes cluster munitions – which are banned in more than 100 countries because when they detonate, they release many small bomblets over a wide area, and the unexploded elements pose severe risks to civilians for years after the fighting ends.

When asked whether the Pentagon has assured its allies that these munitions will not cause excessive civilian harm, Kahl replied: “I’m as concerned about the humanitarian circumstance as anybody, but the worst thing for civilians in Ukraine is for Russia to win the war. And so it’s important that they don’t.”

He added that Kiev had promised not to use cluster munitions in civilian-populated urban areas and to keep records of where the weapons are deployed to make future de-mining efforts easier. The official also portrayed the deliveries as a stop-gap measure until Kiev’s Western backers can ramp up production of conventional shells.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, US President Joe Biden described the decision to supply the controversial shells to Ukraine as “difficult.” He said that it was in part motivated by the fact that both Kiev and Washington are feeling a deficit of ordinary ammunition, adding that Ukraine “needed” cluster munitions to prevent Russia from stopping its ongoing counteroffensive.

Commenting on the announcement, Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, called the move “a gesture of desperation,” adding that the West does not want to admit that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is faltering.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted by posting a clip of former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki from late February 2022, days after the start of the Ukraine conflict, saying that the use of cluster munitions could potentially be regarded as a war crime.

مقالات ذات صلة

زر الذهاب إلى الأعلى