Ukraine has received cluster munitions from the United States, Ukrainian Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavsky, commander of Joint Force Operation Tavria, confirmed in a conversation with CNN.
“We just received them, we haven’t used them yet, but they can radically change [the situation on the battlefield]”, he said.
According to the Ukrainian general, the Russian army leadership realizes that the cluster munitions have given the AFU an advantage. Tarnavskyy believes that the Russian army will surrender to Ukraine the terrain where the AFU can use these shells. At the same time, the top leadership of the Ukrainian forces has not yet decided where exactly to use the received “powerful weapon”, he added.
Tarnavsky emphasized that the AFU will not use cluster munitions in densely populated areas. “The Russians think that we will use them on all parts of the front”, he added. “This is very wrong. But they are very concerned”.
The Ukrainian military has given the United States a pledge to use the transferred cluster munitions where they will cause minimal damage to civilians, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CNN. He said the AFU would use the cluster munitions “in appropriate locations” outside populated areas. He noted that Kyiv would record every use of cluster munitions and use them more for demining.
“First of all, I think we should remember that they are fighting a hard war, defending their territory. I mean, it’s not like they’re asking for ammunition to invade another country like the Russians, and they’ve been using cluster munitions from the beginning”, Lloyd Austin told CNN.
The US confirmed the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine on July 7. US Assistant to the President for National Security Jake Sullivan emphasized that this was a temporary solution until the US could establish the supply of unitary munitions to Kyiv. The State Department described the transfer of cluster munitions to the Ukrainian armed forces as a “difficult decision”.
The head of the Russian Defense Ministry threatened to hit Ukraine with cluster munitions in response. According to him, Russia had previously refrained from using them, but “will be forced” to do so “as a retaliatory measure”. At the same time, the AFU and independent international organizations, including the UN, have repeatedly accused Russia of using cluster munitions on the battlefield.
Cluster or cluster munitions are designed to destroy the enemy’s manpower. When exploding, such a shell scatters dozens of small submunitions or “small-caliber bombs” over a wide area. Not all of them detonate immediately; some may explode when picked up by civilians some time later. Therefore, the terrain where cluster munitions are used remains dangerous even after the end of hostilities.
More than a hundred countries have signed a convention banning cluster munitions. However, neither Russia, Ukraine, nor the United States have joined the ban.