Madrid and London do not look kindly on the American decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine.
The Biden administration announced on Friday that the weapons will be included in the U.S.’s next $800 million arms package to Kyiv — a decision that has raised humanitarian concerns.
A cluster bomb is a weapon engineered to scatter submunitions (or “bomblets”) over a wide area, potentially risking civilian collateral damage. Washington is not party to the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions, endorsed by more than 100 countries, including the U.K. and Spain, and banning their use. Neither are Russia and Ukraine.
“It is important to note that the Russian Federation has been indiscriminately using cluster munitions from day 1 of the unprovoked large-scale aggression,” tweeted Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov after the U.S. announcement. He committed to use the weapons with caution.
But the “five principles” Kyiv is pledging to abide by failed to convince some European allies.
“Spain, based on the firm commitment it has with Ukraine, also has a firm commitment that certain weapons and bombs cannot be delivered under any circumstances,” Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles told reporters on Saturday. “No to cluster bombs and yes to the legitimate defense of Ukraine, which we understand should not be carried out with cluster bombs,” she said.
The U.K. is determined to honor this commitment too, as a “signatory to a convention which prohibits the production or use of cluster munitions and discourages their use,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Saturday.
“We will continue to do our part to support Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion, but we’ve done that by providing heavy battle tanks and most recently long-range weapons, and hopefully all countries can continue to support Ukraine,” Sunak said.
Sunak is due to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden in London on Monday, ahead of a NATO summit starting Tuesday in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov promised the cluster munitions would be used to liberate territory from Russian occupation and would not be used in Russia.
“Our position is simple — we need to liberate our temporarily occupied territories and save the lives of our people,” Reznikov wrote on Twitter late Saturday.
“Ukraine will use these munitions only for the de-occupation of our internationally recognized territories,”he said. “These munitions will not be used on the officially recognized territory of Russia.”
A top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that it was “at least fair” for Kyiv to receive cluster bombs, as Russia “has been using this type of ammunition in Ukraine for over a year.” Mykhailo Podolyak called the weapons “extremely important for Ukraine.”
“Given the fact that Russia has been using this type of ammunition in Ukraine for over a year, this is at least fair,” Podolyak said. “And actually Russia should be talked to only in a language it understands — commensurate force,” he added.
Source : POLITICO