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Cluster bombs will not be used in Russia, only to de-occupy Ukraine: Defense minister

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Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov welcomed the US decision to send cluster bombs to Kyiv, saying it would help to de-occupy the Ukrainian territory but vowed that the munitions would be not used in Russia.

The US announced on Friday that it would supply Ukraine with widely banned cluster munitions for its counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces.

Reznikov said the munitions would help save the lives of Ukrainian soldiers, adding that Ukraine would keep a strict record of their use and exchange information with its partners.

“Our position is simple - we need to liberate our temporarily occupied territories and save the lives of our people,” Reznikov wrote on Twitter. “Ukraine will use these munitions only for the de-occupation of our internationally recognized territories. These munitions will not be used on the officially recognized territory of Russia.”

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Cluster munitions are prohibited by more than 100 countries. They typically release large numbers of smaller bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area. Those that fail to explode pose a danger for decades.

Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, on Friday sought to make the case for providing the arms to Ukraine to reclaim territory seized since Russia invaded in February 2022.

“We recognize that cluster munitions create a risk of civilian harm from unexploded ordnance,” Sullivan told reporters. “But there is also a massive risk of civilian harm if Russian troops and tanks roll over Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian territory and subjugate more Ukrainian civilians because Ukraine does not have enough artillery,” he said.

Reznikov said the military would not use cluster munitions in urban areas and would use them only “to break through the enemy defense lines.” Russia, Ukraine, and the United States have not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the production, stockpiling, use, and transfer of the weapons.

Spain, a signatory to the convention, said it opposed the decision.

“Spain, based on the firm commitment it has with Ukraine, also has a firm commitment that certain weapons and bombs cannot be delivered under any circumstances,” Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles told reporters at a Madrid rally on Saturday.

Britain is also a signatory to the convention which prohibits the production or use of cluster munitions and discourages their use, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

“We will continue to do our part to support Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion,” he told reporters on Saturday.

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