Like landmines, widely-banned cluster munitions often pose a deadly threat years after being deployed. Now the US will send cluster bombs to Ukraine to support the country's counter-offensive against Russia.
Washington will supply Ukraine with cluster munitions as part of a military aid package worth $800 million to help fight off the Russian invasion.
In a statement sent out to reporters on Friday, US Defense Secretary Antony Blinken said that the weapons and equipment in this new aid package were "essential to strengthening Ukraine’s brave forces on the battlefield and helping them retake Ukraine’s sovereign territory and defend their fellow citizens."
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock rejected supplying such weapons to Ukraine on Friday. Speaking in Vienna, Baerbock said the government stood by the Oslo Convention, which is considered a milestone in the fight against the controversial explosives. An international ban on them came into force in 2010.
To date, 110 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and a further 13 nations have signed but not ratified the Convention — so they are not yet obliged to implement it. Signatories commit to neither produce, stockpile nor use the weapons.
However, the world's largest countries ―including Russia, the US, China, India and Pakistan ― and also Ukraine have not signed. Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and eastern Europe all have a low percentage of members.