Ukraine is using cluster bombs against Russian forces less than a week after they were first delivered from U.S. reserve stores, the White House confirmed Thursday.
President Joe Biden called the decision to send the deadly munitions “very difficult” while acting in defiance of allies like the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Spain who stand opposed to their use, as Breitbart News reported.
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 civilian populations.
The Washington Post first reported Ukraine’s military had begun to use the weapons in the country’s southeast to try to break up well-fortified Russian positions. The Post also reported Kyiv intends to use the munitions near the Russian-held town of Bakhmut.
National Security Spokesman John Kirby said initial feedback suggested they were being used “effectively” on Russian defensive positions and operations.
Cluster bombs scatter multiple bomblets and are banned by more than 100 states due to their threat to civilians.
Ukraine has sworn the bombs will only be used to dislodge concentrations of Russian enemy soldiers.
“They are using them appropriately,” Kirby said, the Daily Telegraph reports. “They’re using them effectively and they are actually having an impact on Russia’s defensive formations and Russia’s defensive manoeuvring. I think I can leave it at that.”
The U.S. decided to send cluster bombs after Ukraine warned that it was running out of ammunition during its summer counter-offensive, which has been slower and more costly than many had hoped.
The weapons are claimed to be effective when used against troops in trenches and fortified positions, as they render large areas too dangerous to move around in until cleared.
The White House decision to send the controversial munitions drew threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin who warned his forces would retaliate against Ukraine if the weapons “are used against us.”
Putin neglected to mention the Kremlin has used cluster munitions in populated areas of Ukraine at least 24 times since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022, according to the United Nations.