Four leading Republicans in Congress have sent a letter to President Biden urging him to provide Kyiv with cluster bombs, controversial munitions that endanger civilians by spreading small bomblets over large areas.
Due to the harm they cause civilians, cluster bombs have been banned by over 100 countries under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. But Russia, Ukraine, and the US are not signatories to the treaty.
The letter to Biden was signed by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Ukraine has been asking the US to send cluster bombs, specifically the MK-20, an air-delivered cluster bomb, and a 155mm artillery cluster shell. Both Russian and Ukrainian forces have used cluster munitions in the war. Kyiv had used them years earlier in the Donbas war against populated areas of Donestk in 2014.
In the letter, the Republican lawmakers urged Biden to send cluster munitions, including the Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM), which have several types of variants. DPICM are available as 155mm artillery rounds, GMLRS rockets that Ukraine has been using with the HIMARS rocket systems, and ATACMS, missiles that have a range of up to 190 miles that the US has not yet provided Kyiv.
According to the lawmakers, the US has three million rounds of DPICMs available. They argue sending the widely-banned munition could alleviate pressure on other US stockpiles. They said Ukrainian leaders are aware of the “risks to noncombatants associated” with cluster bombs but say the risk to civilians “pales in comparison” to the threat posed by Russia.