Decision To Send Cluster Munitions To Ukraine Draws Pushback

Decision To Send Cluster Munitions To Ukraine Draws Controversy

( – The United States has committed to supporting Ukraine’s ongoing battle with Russia. Over the past two years, the Biden Administration has sent approximately $22 billion to the war-torn country through presidential drawdowns. The nation is unlikely to stop the aid anytime soon, especially since Russia is still aggressively attacking. However, the latest approval has drawn considerable controversy, particularly from President Joe Biden’s own party.

The Latest Approval

In past aid packages, the US has sent armored vehicles, missiles, ammunition, anti-armor systems, and air defenses, to name a few. So far, the administration has resisted calls to send over F-16s directly, though there have been discussions about a third-party transfer.

Yet, the most recent approval allows for the delivery of cluster bombs, a controversial move. The munitions open mid-air and release several smaller bomblets, allowing attackers to cover more ground with fewer munitions. However, the bomblets present a number of concerns. In the past, this type of munition tended to have a high dud rate, meaning not all the bomblets exploded when they landed, which left potential landmines for decades. Another issue is that they pose a serious threat to regular citizens. Further, research from Human Rights Watch pointed to cluster bombs causing a number of civilian deaths in Ukraine in 2022. The US hasn’t employed cluster munitions in its engagements since 2009 or exported them since 2015.

Pushback From Progressives

On July 7, 19 House Progressives, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), signed a letter opposing Biden’s approval to send the weapons overseas. The correspondence noted that “cluster munitions have been banned by nearly 125 countries […] because of the indiscriminate harm they cause, including mass civilian injury and death.”

The lawmakers cited several sources pointing to the questionable use of the weapons and noted that despite their support of providing Ukraine with the necessary aid, they don’t believe it’s necessary to “undermine the United States’ leadership in advocating for human rights around the world.”

Progressives weren’t the only ones unhappy about Biden’s decision, however. Former President Donald Trump issued a statement through his campaign denouncing the move, saying Biden shouldn’t be “dragging” the US toward “World War III” by sending cluster munitions and encouraging the war to continue. He also argued that the weapons would have long-term consequences for innocent people.

While more than 100 countries ban the weapons, Russia and Ukraine are not among the treaty’s signatories. When asked about the decision to send the cluster bombs, Biden said he found the decision difficult, but he ultimately relied on the Defense Department’s guidance. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also noted that the President made the decision after considerable study based on the fact that Ukraine is running out of ammunition and that the dud rate on the approved munitions has proven lower, so they would pose a lesser risk.

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