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24 Mar, 2023 17:04

Russia warns US about cluster bombs

Those urging Washington to supply such weapons to Kiev should be aware of the consequences, Russia’s deputy foreign minister says
Russia warns US about cluster bombs

Congressmen pushing the Biden administration toward supplying Kiev’s forces with cluster munitions should note the implications such deliveries would have for NATO’s own security, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, he said US lawmakers are apparently unaware of the potential consequences such a move would have for the security of the US-led military bloc or the prospects of normalizing Moscow-Washington relations.

His comments came after four republican congressmen officially asked US President Joe Biden on Tuesday to send cluster munitions to Ukraine, specifically dual purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM), dismissing concerns that such a shipment could escalate the conflict.

Republican senators James Risch of Idaho and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, along with representatives Michael McCaul of Texas and Mike Rogers of Alabama, argued that Washington should not hesitate to send the controversial weapons, which are banned in 110 countries under a 2008 UN treaty, due to “vague concerns about the reaction of allies and partners and unfounded fears of ‘escalation.’”

The request came after Ukraine asked the US Congress to press President Biden to approve the delivery of MK-20 cluster bombs, which Kiev intends to drop on Russian forces from drones. Ukraine had also asked the US for 155mm artillery cluster shells.

Washington has yet to officially approve the delivery of any cluster munitions to Ukraine, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saying in December that “according to our own policy, we have concerns about the use of those kinds of munitions.” The US is barred from exporting such weapons by law.

There have been multiple reports of Kiev’s forces using Soviet cluster weapons in residential areas, both before and after Moscow launched its military operation in the country last year. One such incident was the March 2022 bombing of Donetsk, when a Tochka-U missile with a cluster payload killed over 20 people and injured dozens of others. Kiev denied responsibility for the attack. Human Rights Watch said in May that it could not verify the events.