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Cluster munitions are an issue that concerns every country, says NATO Secretary General.

US allies reacted cautiously on Friday to reports that the Biden administration said it would supply Ukraine with cluster munitions, widely banned weapons that often cause serious injury to civilians, especially children. .

Without criticizing the United States or opposing the move, Germany and France said they would not do the same, pointing to an international treaty they signed that prohibits the use, storage or the transfer of such weapons. The United States, Russia and Ukraine have not signed the treaty, known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

“Germany has also signed the convention; for us that is not an option,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters in Bern, Switzerland.

The French foreign ministry also referred to the treaty, known as the Oslo Convention, saying that France “undertook not to produce or use cluster munitions and to discourage their use. “. But a ministry spokeswoman noted in response to a reporter’s question that neither the United States nor Ukraine were bound by the treaty.

“We understand the decision taken by the United States to help Ukraine exercise self-defense against Russia’s unlawful aggression,” she said.

President Biden’s approval to supply Ukraine with the weapons, which kyiv has long requested, Sharply separates it from many of the United States’ closest allies and complicates allies’ efforts to show unity at a NATO summit next week in Lithuania.

While senior US national security officials have expressed reservations about supplying the weapons, they believe they have no choice but to send them to Ukraine, which is in danger of running out of conventional artillery shells. it needs to fight Russia, according to people familiar with the talks.

On Friday, Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, said Russia had used cluster munitions since the start of the war and that Ukraine “would not use these munitions in a foreign country.”

“It’s their country they’re defending,” Sullivan said. “It is their citizens they are protecting, and they are motivated to use any weapon system they have in a way that minimizes risk to those citizens.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that the military alliance had no official position on the use of cluster munitions in combat, dodging the question of whether he believed that It was wise for the United States to supply the widely banned weapons to Ukraine. .

“It is up to each of the allies to make decisions on the delivery of arms and military supplies to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “So it will be up to governments to decide – not NATO as an alliance.”

Russian Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov called the supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine a “move of desperation”.

“The ‘hawks’ in the West realized that the much-heralded counter-offensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces did not go as planned, so they are trying at all costs to give it at least some momentum,” he said. told TASS news. agency.

Cluster munitions scatter tiny bombs that sometimes fail to explode upon hitting the ground, only to explode years later when disturbed by civilians. But officials said the Biden administration now believes munitions are the best way to kill Russians who are digging in trenches and block Ukraine’s counteroffensive to retake territory. A US official said on Thursday it was now clear that the weapons were “100% necessary” to meet battlefield needs.

Mr. Stoltenberg said that Russia and Ukraine already use cluster munitions. The New York Times has documented Russia’s extensive use of cluster munitions in Ukraine since the start of its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Ukraine has also used them in its efforts to retake occupied territories by Russia, according to human rights monitors, the UN, and reports from The Times.

“Russia uses fragmentation missions in its brutal war of aggression, to invade another country, while Ukraine uses it to defend itself,” Stoltenberg said.

nytimes Eur

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