Joe Biden is expected to supply Ukraine with cluster bombs, which much of the world has vowed not to use due to their long-term effects on civilians.
A senior Biden administration official told the New York Times that the United States will provide Ukraine with cluster munitions after Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky pushed for America to provide the country with the controversial and widely-banned weapon.
Cluster munitions are a category of rockets, bombs, missiles, and artillery projectiles that break apart in the air and blanket a large area. The munitions often fail and can devastate civilians.
Humanitarian groups state that a fifth or more of the munitions can linger and harm civilians years after the conflict. More than 100 countries have signed the Convention of Cluster Munitions, promising not to use them. However, Russia, the United States, and Ukraine have not signed the treaty.
Ukraine has claimed that cluster munitions would help its counteroffensive against Russia.
Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense, recently told lawmakers that cluster munitions would help Ukraine against Russia’s “dug-in” positions.
Russia has reportedly used cluster munitions in the Ukraine conflict.
Lawmakers and human rights advocates have concerns about the move to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions.
“Transferring cluster munitions disregards the substantial danger they pose to civilians and undermines the global effort to ban them,” Mary Wareham, the Human Rights Watch advocacy director, said on Thursday.
Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA) said the move would undermine America’s status on human rights.
She said in a statement on Thursday, “We’ve seen Russia’s horrific use of cluster munitions in Ukraine – and we shouldn’t cede the moral high ground by criticizing their actions and then deciding to send cluster munitions ourselves.”
Ultimately, our goal goes beyond winning this war – we want to win the future of Ukraine by building a free, open, and democratic Ukraine. But cluster munitions prevent the successful economic rebuilding and recovery that’s needed to ensure a prosperous Ukraine and maintain anti-corruption gains.
“We’re seen around the world as human rights defenders, but this decision would undermine that reputation, so I urge the Administration to stand up for our values and refuse to send cluster munitions to Ukraine,” the California Democrat added.
As Biden ratches up support for Ukraine, Zelenksy met with environmental activist Greta Thunberg to discuss Russia’s alleged environmental crimes.