Ukraine has received cluster munitions, a military spokesperson said on Thursday, less than a week after the United States announced it would transfer such munitions to Ukrainian forces.
Valeryi Shershen, a spokesman for the Tavria military command in southern Ukraine, confirmed a CNN report citing the commander of the Tavria forces as saying Ukraine had just received cluster munitions but had not used them yet.
Cluster munitions are “in the hands of our defense forces,” Shershen told Ukrainian television but giving few details.
The U.S. announced on July 7 that it would send Kyiv cluster munitions as part of an $800-million security package intended to ensure Russian forces that invaded Ukraine nearly 17 months ago cannot halt a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
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.
Ukraine has said it will use cluster bombs only to “de-occupy” its territory and that it will not use them in urban areas. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated Ukraine’s assurances during a NATO summit on Wednesday.
Russia, Ukraine and the US have not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans production, stockpiling, use and transfer of the weapons.
The decision to send the munitions to Ukraine has been opposed by Spain and Canada, while Britain said it was part of a convention that discourages use of the weapons. Some Democratic lawmakers also raised their concerns. The Russian embassy in the US has condemned the decision.