Cluster munitions for Kyiv: right or wrong?
The US has ceded to pressure from Kyiv and agreed to supply Ukraine with cluster bombs as part of an 800 million-dollar (roughly 730 million-euro) military aid package. Cluster munitions are controversial because of their high dud rate and are prohibited by more than 100 states. Washington has countered that the danger to civilians in the event of a new Russian advance is greater. Commentators weigh the pros and cons.
Commenting in LB.ua, journalist Kirill Danilchenko welcomes the cluster bomb deliveries:
“When the Kremlin murderers rant about responding appropriately to the delivery of cluster munitions and missiles, they should remember their bloody deeds in Kharkiv and northern Ukraine. Because the [Russian rocket launchers] Smerchy and Uragans have fired cluster munitions there all too often. The delivery of cluster munition to Ukraine is the world’s response to their actions, not the other way around. ... These weapons may not have a decisive impact on the course of the war, but they are long overdue and will allow us to continue the active phase of the offensive. That is what we have been asking for for months. And it is good news.”
Harmful for civilians
Blogger Andriy Movchan argues against the delivery of cluster munitions on Facebook:
“If I were a resident of the occupied areas, I would not want my village and its surroundings to be liberated using cluster munitions. These people and their children will have to live among the unexploded bombs, work in the fields and walk along the paths. While it is said that the percentage of unexploded clusters in these devices is much lower than in other shells, in terms of civilian safety this is not the best thing to wish upon the people who have to live there.”
A conventional weapon despite the UN convention
Radio Kommersant FM’s take on the use of cluster munitions is pragmatic:
“There is a UN convention that prohibits their use. However, neither Russia, Ukraine, the US nor any other countries that produce such weapons have signed it. The simple rule is that if there are effective means to help achieve the intended goals, then we should use them. In this case, cluster munitions are very effective in offensive operations, including against minefields and troops in trenches and other defensive structures. And as for conventions: when the guns speak, any paper loses its meaning. The only deterrent is the fear of retaliation or the prospect of suffering losses oneself.”
A danger for decades to come
Cluster bombs are insidious weapons that can continue to sow death and destruction decades after a war ends, warns Večernji list:
“Croatia also has sad experience with such munitions in its recent history, which means that we know that they also pose a danger to civilians, since an estimated 10 to 40 percent don’t explode. NGOs trying to have such munitions banned say that there are still unexploded bombs in Vietnam even 50 years after the war. If civilians are killed by such munitions, it amounts to a war crime, according to Human Rights Watch.”
An almost secondary debate
The Russian president couldn’t care less about moral considerations, Le Monde points out:
“Unlike democracies, Moscow will never set itself a limit in the conduct of war. Its strategy of systematic attacks on residential areas, as witnessed in numerous war zones over the past quarter century, testifies to this. ... Today it is plunging Ukraine into terror day after day, night after night. This cynical strategy makes debate about the indiscriminate nature of cluster bombs almost secondary. Vladimir Putin does not distinguish between military and civilian targets. If the latter are attacked, it is deliberate.”