The Biden administration has decided to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine, part of a new $800 million military aid package, amidst ongoing conflict with Russia. Despite widespread concerns over potential civilian casualties, officials claim that these munitions have a significantly reduced “dud rate,” decreasing the chances of unexploded rounds causing unintended civilian deaths.
- The military aid package to Ukraine, including cluster munitions, will also comprise Bradley and Stryker armored vehicles and a variety of ammunition. The announcement is expected soon.
- Cluster bombs release multiple “bomblets” over a wide area, designed to cause damage to numerous targets simultaneously. Ukraine sought these to aid in breaking through Russian troop lines.
- The decision is controversial given that cluster bombs can often leave behind unexploded ordnance, creating a threat to civilians. However, officials claim that the munitions to be provided to Ukraine have a less than 3% rate of unexploded ordnance.
- More than 120 countries have signed a convention to ban the use of cluster bombs due to their indiscriminate harm and long-term danger to civilians. Neither the United States, Russia, nor Ukraine are among the signatories.
- The decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine could potentially divide NATO’s largely united support for Kyiv, as over two-thirds of the 30 alliance countries have signed the 2010 convention on cluster munitions.