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WSJ: Cluster munitions provide 'fresh impetus' to Ukraine's counteroffensive

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 8, 2023 10:49 PM 2 min read
The remains of a rocket that carried cluster munitions found in a field in the countryside of Kherson Oblast on April 28, 2023. (Photo by Alice Martins for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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U.S.-supplied cluster munitions are destroying Russian positions in areas where Ukrainian troops had struggled to advance, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Aug. 8.

Ukrainian forces have been striking Russian infantry, vehicles, and artillery positions, clearing the way for ground forces' advances. This allowed Kyiv to take positions its troops have long struggled to reach, the WSJ said, citing Ukrainian soldiers.

The effectiveness of the ammunition has been demonstrated during recent fights around Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Russian forces pinned down a Ukrainian platoon until Ukraine's artillery provided a cover with cluster munitions, causing heavy casualties among the Russian ranks and forcing them to retreat.

According to Ukrainian soldiers, cluster munitions are effective but Russian troops are already adapting to their use by digging deeper trenches and by spreading their positions more thinly.

How controversial cluster munitions give Ukraine needed punch during counteroffensive
Ukraine has begun using American cluster munitions in the field and is doing so effectively, according to the White House. “They are using them appropriately,” National Security Spokesman John Kirby said on July 21. “They’re using them effectively, and they are actually having an impact on Russia’s…

Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander for Tavria military sector, confirmed to CNN on July 13 that the U.S. had already delivered the weapons it had pledged as part of the latest $800-million aid package to Ukraine the week before.

The announcement that the U.S. was sending cluster munitions to Ukraine was seen as controversial due to humanitarian concerns over their use.

Cluster munitions scatter bomblets over a wide area. The cluster munition duds, or unexploded bomblets, can pose a danger to the civilian population in the area long after the hostilities end.

The Ukrainian military has therefore said that cluster munitions will not be used in cities, densely populated areas, or on Russian territory.

While Russian forces have been using munitions with a dud rate of 30-40%, the U.S.-provided cluster munitions would have a dud rate not higher than 2.5%, according to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Over 120 countries banned using, developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or transferring cluster munitions in the 2010 convention. Ukraine, the U.S., and Russia are not signatories to the convention.

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