A Pentagon official has told Congress that controversial cluster munitions Ukraine has been seeking from the US would be “useful” to Ukrainian forces on the battlefield.
Cluster bombs scatter small submunitions over large areas, making them especially hazardous to civilians. Because of their indiscriminate nature, cluster munitions have been banned by more than 100 nations.
But the US, Ukraine, and Russia are not parties to the treaty, known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Both sides in the current conflict in Ukraine have reportedly used cluster bombs, and Kyiv was using them against populated areas of Donestk in the Donbas war going back to 2014.
Ukraine has been asking the US to send cluster munitions that are in Pentagon stockpiles, and the Biden administration has been under growing pressure from Republicans in Congress to oblige the request. Now, the Pentagon appears to have come out in favor of sending Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM), a cluster munition with several variants, including a 155mm artillery round.
“Our military analysts have confirmed that DPICMs would be useful, especially against dug-in Russian positions on the battlefield,” Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, told the House Armed Services Committee.
According to POLITICO, senior Biden administration officials had previously said they were not sending cluster munitions to Ukraine but now are more ambiguous about the idea, signaling they are more open to providing the controversial bombs. A US official told POLITICO that, at this point, no decision has been made.