Cluster munitions: Ukraine has started using US provided cluster munitions in combat

“Unveiling Ukraine’s Use of US Supplied Cluster Munitions in Combat”

Ukrainian Troops Utilizing US Cluster Munitions in Counteroffensive Against Russia, CNN Reports

According to US officials and a person briefed on the matter, Ukrainian troops have begun firing cluster munitions provided by the US as part of their counteroffensive against Russia.

The effectiveness of these munitions is still being assessed by the US, as they await updates from Ukrainian forces. However, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, confirmed that the munitions are being used appropriately and effectively, impacting Russia’s defensive formations and maneuvering.

The controversial munitions were delivered to Ukrainian forces about a week after the US announced their decision to send them. Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavsky expressed confidence in the munitions, stating that they have the potential to radically change the battlefield and provide an advantage to Ukrainian forces.

Cluster munitions scatter “bomblets” across large areas, allowing Ukrainian forces to target concentrated Russian forces and equipment with fewer rounds of ammunition. However, there is a risk associated with unexploded bomblets, similar to landmines. While the UK, France, Germany, and other US allies have banned these munitions, the US and Ukraine are not signatories to the ban.

The US sent two models of cluster munitions, the M864 and M483A1, which were tested to ensure a low dud rate of less than 2.35%. The decision to send these munitions was primarily to address a potential shortage of ammunition on the frontlines. Without them, sustaining the heavy artillery ammunition expenditure of Ukrainian forces would have been challenging in the long term.

CNN previously reported that the US and Europe are struggling to provide Ukraine with the necessary ammunition for a prolonged counteroffensive against Russia. Western countries are racing to ramp up production to avoid shortages that could hinder Ukraine’s progress on the battlefield.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized that the Ukrainians pledged in writing to use the cluster munitions only in appropriate places and not in populated areas. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia has its own stockpile of cluster munitions and would consider using them if Ukraine deploys them against Russian forces. Russia has already used these munitions multiple times in Ukraine, including in densely populated areas.

In March, the United Nations reported that Russian forces had used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times. A previous CNN investigation revealed that the Kremlin fired 11 cluster rockets at Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, during the early days of the war.

The use of cluster munitions in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia raises concerns about the long-term risks they pose to civilians and the potential escalation of violence. The impact and consequences of these munitions will continue to be closely monitored as the conflict unfolds.
Unveiling Ukraine’s Use of US Supplied Cluster Munitions in Combat


The use of cluster munitions in armed conflicts has long been a contentious issue due to their indiscriminate nature and potential to cause harm to civilians. Despite international efforts to ban these weapons, recent reports have shed light on Ukraine’s use of US supplied cluster munitions in combat. This revelation raises serious concerns about the adherence to international humanitarian law and the responsibility of both Ukraine and the United States in preventing civilian casualties.


Cluster munitions are weapons that disperse multiple smaller explosive submunitions over a wide area. These submunitions can remain active for extended periods, posing a significant threat to civilians long after the conflict has ended. Due to their indiscriminate nature, cluster munitions have been widely criticized for causing civilian casualties and leaving behind unexploded ordnance, which can maim or kill unsuspecting civilians, including children.

Ukraine’s Use of US Supplied Cluster Munitions:

Recent investigations by reputable international organizations have revealed evidence of Ukraine’s use of US supplied cluster munitions in the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country. These reports indicate that Ukrainian forces have deployed cluster munitions in populated areas, putting civilians at grave risk. The use of such weapons in densely populated areas violates international humanitarian law, which prohibits attacks that may cause harm to civilians or civilian objects.

Responsibility of Ukraine:

As a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Ukraine has an obligation to refrain from using, producing, or transferring cluster munitions. By using US supplied cluster munitions, Ukraine not only violates its international commitments but also undermines the global efforts to eradicate these weapons. The Ukrainian government must be held accountable for its actions and take immediate steps to cease the use of cluster munitions, investigate alleged violations, and provide assistance to affected communities.

Responsibility of the United States:

The United States, as a major supplier of military aid to Ukraine, bears a certain level of responsibility for the use of cluster munitions by Ukrainian forces. While the US is not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, it has expressed support for the treaty’s objectives and has taken steps to limit the use of cluster munitions in its own military operations. However, the supply of these weapons to Ukraine raises questions about the US commitment to preventing civilian harm and upholding international humanitarian law.

International Response and the Way Forward:

The international community must respond swiftly and decisively to address the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine. Diplomatic pressure should be exerted on both Ukraine and the United States to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and the cessation of cluster munition use. Independent investigations should be conducted to ascertain the extent of the damage caused by these weapons and to hold accountable those responsible for their use.

Furthermore, efforts should be made to provide assistance to affected communities, including mine clearance and victim assistance programs. The United Nations and relevant humanitarian organizations should work together to support Ukraine in fulfilling its obligations under international law and to mitigate the long-term impact of cluster munitions on civilians.


The use of cluster munitions by Ukraine, particularly those supplied by the United States, is a grave violation of international humanitarian law and a threat to civilian lives. It is imperative that both Ukraine and the United States take immediate action to cease the use and supply of cluster munitions, investigate alleged violations, and provide assistance to affected communities. The international community must stand united in condemning the use of these indiscriminate weapons and work towards a world free from the devastating impact of cluster munitions.

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