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8 Jul, 2023 18:15

Supplying cluster bombs to Ukraine is wrong – NATO member

Spain categorically opposes the delivery of the weapons, Defense Minister Margarita Robles has said
Supplying cluster bombs to Ukraine is wrong – NATO member

Cluster munitions should not be used by Ukraine “under any circumstances,” Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said on Saturday. Her comment came a day after the US announced that it would send the controversial ordnance to Ukraine, amid a shortage in conventional shells.

“Spain, based on the firm commitment it has with Ukraine, also has a firm commitment that certain weapons and bombs cannot be delivered under any circumstances,” Robles told reporters after a rally in Madrid. Spain says "no to cluster bombs and yes to the legitimate defense of Ukraine, which we understand should not be carried out with cluster bombs,” Robles added, according to Reuters. 

The White House announced on Friday that President Joe Biden had authorized the delivery of an unspecified number of dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) to Kiev, based on the “unanimous” recommendation of the president’s national security team.

The shells, which can be fired from Ukraine’s NATO-supplied 155mm artillery, scatter many small ‘bomblets’ over a wide area, some of which fail to immediately explode and pose severe risks to civilians for years after fighting ends. Cluster munitions are banned by more than 120 countries, although the US, Ukraine, and Russia are not parties to the ban.

Biden’s decision was also criticized by Germany and the UK. However, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Friday that sending these weapons was necessary to “bridge” the gap until Kiev’s Western backers could increase production of conventional 155mm shells. 

Speaking to CNN later on Friday, Biden was more blunt. “It was a very difficult decision on my part,” he said, claiming that he signed off on the supply because “the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.” 

Last year, then White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki described Russia’s alleged use of similar ordnance as “potentially a war crime.” 

Moscow was dismissive of the news. Cluster bombs are “yet another ‘Wunderwaffe’ [wonder weapon] Washington and Kiev are betting on, without thinking about the harsh consequences,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing on Friday. “Through the cluster munition deliveries, Washington de-facto becomes an accomplice in mining [Ukraine’s] territory and will share full responsibility for the deaths… of both Russian and Ukrainian children.”