Controversial cluster munitions supplied by the US are being used “effectively” by Ukrainian forces in their counteroffensive against Russia, a senior Washington defense official said.
“We have gotten some initial feedback from the Ukrainians, and they’re using them quite effectively,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.
“They are using them appropriately, they are using them effectively,” Kirby said, adding that additional details could be obtained from Ukraine.
Kirby also said the US-provided cluster bombs – which are banned by more than 120 countries – were having an impact on Russian defensive formations and the maneuvering of Russia’s forces, Al Jazeera reported.
Citing an anonymous Ukrainian source, the Washington Post newspaper reported on Thursday that Kyiv’s forces are using cluster munitions against “well-fortified Russian positions that have slowed Ukraine’s summer offensive”.
According to the Washington Post, Russian front line positions in the east and south of Ukraine, which have successfully slowed Ukraine’s counteroffensive, have been “densely mined with antitank and antipersonnel mines and trip wires in areas” between 4.8km and 16km deep (three to 10 miles).
Cluster munitions are being used to “break up” Russian trenches, a Ukrainian military official told the newspaper.
The US and Ukraine have received broad criticism for the provision and use of cluster munitions on the battlefield and which have been banned by many countries because of the long-term risks posed to civilians.
Cluster weapons typically release large numbers of smaller bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area, and those that fail to explode pose a danger for decades after.