WP: Biden sings off on sending Ukraine cluster munitions

07.07.2023, 10:38
WP: Biden sings off on sending Ukraine cluster munitions - Photo
President Joe Biden of the United States. Photo via EPA

US president Joe Biden has approved the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine, with the decision expected to be announced later on Friday, the Washington Post reported.

The move comes amid "concerns about Kyiv’s lagging counteroffensive against entrenched Russian troops and dwindling Western stocks of conventional artillery", it says.

Following months of internal debates, the transfer will effectively bypass US law prohibiting the production, use or transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1 percent.

Mr Biden would bypass it and Congress, according to a White House official, under a rarely used provision of the Foreign Assistance Act, which allows the president to provide aid, "regardless of appropriations or arms export restrictions, as long as he determines that it is in the vital US national security interest," per the WP.

Earlier this week, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said the US was considering sending Ukraine cluster munitions with a failure rate of no more than 2.35 percent.

Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, meanwhile announced "good news" from the United States related to "various types" of ammunition.

Cluster munitions, or DPICMs, designed to destroy armoured vehicles and infantry in open areas, release dozens of smaller submunitions upon explosion, which, if not triggered, can remain on the battlefield for years.

The use of cluster munitions is restricted by a 2008 convention, which Ukraine, China, the United States, India, Pakistan, Russia, Israel, South Korea, and some other countries have not signed.

The US wants to replace DPICMs with alternative munitions under the AWP programme from Lockheed Martin and Alliant Techsystems, which have similar or greater effectiveness without leaving unexploded submunitions.

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