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11 Jan, 2023 08:25

NATO member sending banned cluster bombs to Ukraine – media

Türkiye has been supplying Kiev with weapons that are banned in many countries, sources told Foreign Policy magazine
NATO member sending banned cluster bombs to Ukraine – media

Ukraine has been receiving consignments of controversial cluster munitions from Türkiye, Foreign Policy magazine has reported. Kiev had been asking Washington for the Cold-War-era weapons for months.

The shipments have been taking place since November, current and former US and European officials told the outlet. It was unclear how many of the munitions had been received, or whether they had yet been used on the battlefield.

The weapons in question are called dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, or DPICMs. They were designed during the Cold War era, when NATO was planning to deploy them against a large-scale Soviet invasion of Europe. The rounds are filled with dozens of submunitions, intended to strike personnel and light-armored targets, scattering over a large area for increased lethality.

Like many other cluster munitions, DPICMs tend to produce long-lasting hazards, as some submunitions can fail to detonate and have the potential to maim or kill somebody years after being deployed.

US law prohibits the exportation of any cluster weapons with a failure rate over a certain threshold. The same regulations require guarantees that cluster munitions will not be used in areas where civilians may be present. Washington has repeatedly rejected requests from Kiev for the supply of DPICMs.

Most European NATO members are signatories of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which bans this type of weapons. Türkiye is not one of them, but has observer status in the Geneva-based organization that oversees the implementation of the treaty. It has indicated that it abides by the rules, though it’s not obliged to.

According to Foreign Policy, the weapons supplied to Ukraine were manufactured during the Cold War under a co-production agreement with the US. Turkish companies made 155mm and 122mm cluster artillery rounds, the magazine claimed.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine are parties to the CCM, and both have reportedly used their Soviet-made cluster munitions in their armed conflict. In March, a Tochka-U missile with a cluster payload killed more than 20 people and injured dozens more in the city of Donetsk. Moscow blamed Kiev for the attack, but this was denied. International watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) later stated that it could not investigate the incident.

“Ukraine already has a massive problem on its hands, and it’s only magnifying it by introducing this weapon,” Mark Hiznay, a senior researcher in the Arms Division for HRW, told Foreign Policy, commenting on Kiev’s effort to get more cluster weapons.