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Commander: Ukraine receives cluster munitions from US

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 13, 2023 3:34 PM 3 min read
A Ukrainian marine from the 37th Brigade walks past a M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer at a position in the Donetsk region on July 10, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine has already received cluster munitions pledged by the U.S. as part of its latest aid package, Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander for Tavriia military sector, told CNN on July 13.

"We just got them, we haven't used them yet, but they can radically change (the battlefield)," said Tarnavskyi. "The enemy also understands that with getting this ammunition, we will have an advantage. The enemy will give up that part of the terrain where it is possible to use this."

According to Tarnavskyi, the senior leadership will decide on the "areas of territory where it can be used," emphasizing that it's prohibited in densely populated areas, even if occupied by Russian troops.

"The Russians think that we will use it on all areas of the front," the commander added, cited by CNN. "This is very wrong. But they are very worried."

Washington announced it would provide Ukraine with cluster munitions on July 7 amid a significant deficit of conventional artillery ammunition.

The step is seen as controversial due to humanitarian concerns over the use of cluster munitions. The unexploded bomblets may pose a danger to the civilian population in the area long after the hostilities end.

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More than 100 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, banning their use, production, and stockpiling. The U.S., Russia, and Ukraine are not among the signatories.

The proportion of bomblets that do not explode upon impact is called the "dud rate." According to U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the munitions provided to Ukraine will not have a dud rate higher than 2.5%, compared to 30-40% of cluster munitions that Russia uses in Ukraine.

Sullivan emphasized that the U.S. will cooperate with Ukraine on demining efforts and that Kyiv intends to use cluster munitions to defend its sovereign territory and citizens.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has defended using cluster munitions against Russia on the battlefield, assuring their use would be controlled. "This is about justice, we defend ourselves without using appropriate weapons on the territory of other states."

According to international observers, Russia has extensively used cluster munitions, including against civilian targets.

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