Putin: Russia has enough cluster bombs of its own; Ukraine counteroffensive failing

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President Vladimir Putin said that Russia has a “sufficient stockpile” of cluster bombs and that Moscow reserves the right to use them if such munitions are used against Russian forces in Ukraine.

“Оf course, if they are used against us, we reserve the right to take reciprocal action,” Putin said in a state TV interview, excerpts of which were published on Sunday.

Ukraine has received cluster bombs from the United States, munitions banned in more than 100 countries. Kyiv has pledged to only use them to dislodge concentrations of enemy soldiers.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Moscow would be forced to use “similar” weapons if the United States supplied cluster bombs to Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.

Cluster munitions are explosive weapons that typically release large numbers of smaller bomblets over a wide area. They are banned by over 100 countries, including Britain and Japan.

Shoigu was quoted as saying that Russia was in possession of cluster munitions but had so far refrained from using them in its military campaign.

However the US has previously accused Russia of using cluster munitions in Ukraine and said they have had a failure rate of up to 40 percent, leaving the ground littered with unexploded bomblets.

Ukraine counteroffensive

Putin also said that Kyiv’s counteroffensive, launched last month to push back Moscow’s forces, was failing.

Ukraine began its highly anticipated fightback after stockpiling Western weapons and building up its offensive forces.

“All enemy attempts to break through our defenses... they have not succeeded since the offensive began. The enemy is not successful,” Putin said.

Ukraine on Friday conceded difficult battles.

“Today it’s advancing not so quickly,” The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, told reporters.

Kyiv said Friday its troops had advanced nearly two kilometers along the southern front over the past week.

Mykola Urshalovych, a senior representative of the National Guard, told reporters that troops had moved towards the occupied southern city of Melitopol during the ongoing offensive.

On Sunday, the army said it was pursuing offensive operations toward Melitopol and Berdyansk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week that the slow delivery of promised arms was delaying Kyiv’s counteroffensive, and called on the United States and other allies to provide long-range weapons and artillery.

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