Dem Congresswoman urges Biden to reconsider sending cluster bombs to Ukraine

Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Demand Justice)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
5:28 PM – Sunday, July 9, 2023

Representative Barbara Lee requested on Sunday that President Joe Biden reconsider his plan to supply highly lethal and contentious cluster bombs to Ukraine as it conducts its counteroffensive against Russia.


“Cluster bombs should never be used – that’s crossing the line,” Lee (D-Calif.) said. “Once you see what takes place – we know what takes place – in terms of cluster bombs being very dangerous to civilians.”

Cluster bombs are banned in about 125 nations due to their proclivity to bring indiscriminate death and devastation to non-military targets, unleashing dozens of tiny explosive submunitions that typically spread mid-air to impact many targets, much like several pellets spread from a single shotgun shell.

The danger, according to U.S. officials, is particularly in the submunitions, which do not always explode immediately and might inflict harm long after they are deployed if discovered by an unwary individual.

“They don’t always immediately explode. Children can step on them… That’s the line we should not cross,” Lee asserted.

The White House stated on Friday that it will provide the weapons to Ukraine after denouncing Russia’s use of them only last year, claiming that using the explosives against civilian targets might constitute a “war crime.”

Since Congress placed significant limitations on exporting cluster bombs to foreign states in 2010, Biden was compelled by U.S. law to obtain a special clearance to send them to Kyiv.

“I think the president’s been doing a good job managing… Putin’s aggressive war against Ukraine, but I think that this should not happen,” Lee continued. “[Biden] had to ask for a waiver under the Foreign Assistance Act just to do it because we have been preventing the use of cluster bombs.”

Lee was one of 19 House Democrats who signed a letter on Friday condemning Biden’s decision as “contrary to Congress’s restrictions on the transfer of these weapons and severely undermines our moral leadership.”

“We can and will continue to support our Ukrainian allies’ defense against Russia’s aggression,” the group wrote. “However, that support does not require we undermine the United States’ leadership in advocating for human rights around the world, enable indiscriminate harm that will only further endanger Ukrainian civilians or distance us from European partners in the conflict who are signatories to the UN Convention opposing cluster munitions.”

When asked why Biden chose to send cluster munitions to Kyiv as the war reaches 500 days, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told the press that the move was intended to help Ukraine strengthen its ongoing counteroffensive, which “in some ways is not moving as fast as [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelensky would like.”

“They are using artillery at a very accelerated rate, as many 1,000’s of rounds per day,” Kirby said. “This is literally a gunfight all along from the Donbas all the way down toward Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, and so they’re running out of inventory.”

Kirby stated that the U.S. military sector is “trying to ramp up” production of the most often used howitzer artillery rounds in Ukraine, but that the rate “is still not where we want it to be.”

“So we’re going to extend these additional artillery shells that have cluster bomblets in them to help bridge the gap as we ramp up production of normal 155mm artillery shells,” he maintained.

However, Kirby also claimed that the White House is “very mindful of concerns about civilian casualties and unexploded ordnance being picked up by civilians” and that the U.S. will “focus with Ukraine on de-mining efforts” to prevent the submunitions from causing harm to the population.

“These munitions do provide a useful battlefield capability,” Kirby said. “I will remind that, while Russia is using them in Ukraine in an aggressive war on another country and indiscriminately killing civilians, the Ukrainians will be using these cluster munitions obviously … To defend their own territory, hitting Russian positions.”

“And I think we can all agree that more civilians have been and will continue to be killed by Russian forces—whether it’s cluster munitions, drones, missile attacks, or just frontal assaults—than will likely be hurt by the use of these cluster munitions fired at Russian positions inside Ukraine,” Kirby continued.

Kirby repeated National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s comments from Friday, inferring that the American cluster bombs the U.S. wants to deliver have a much lower “dud rate,” or rate of unexploded ordnance, than those employed by Russia.

“Russia has been using cluster munitions with high dud or failure rates of between 30 and 40 percent,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Friday… The cluster munitions that we would provide have dud rates far below what Russia [has] … [and are] not higher than 2.5 percent.”

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