Democrats shocked by Biden sending cluster bombs to Ukraine
Democrats have reacted with anger to the White House’s decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine, with a California congressman accusing Joe Biden of stooping to Vladimir Putin’s lows.
The Biden administration announced on Friday that they would send the artillery rounds to Ukraine, after six months of anguish over the decision.
Cluster munitions have been banned by more than 120 countries worldwide, and the United States has not deployed them in Yemen since 2009.
As of 2015, no cluster munitions of any kind have been exported and are no longer produced by U.S. companies.
They are designed to detonate in mid-air and disperse smaller bombs over a wide area, with experts saying there is a risk of injuring civilians. According to the Cluster Munition Coalition, an action group that is trying to ban the weapons everywhere, unexploded cluster munitions that were deployed 50 years ago are lying in Vietnam and Laos.
Barbara Lee, a congresswoman representing California, said she was outraged by the decision, while Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Sara Jacobs of California introduced an amendment on Friday that would effectively block the transfer of these munitions.
California Representative Barbara Lee condemned the decision to send cluster munitions
“I am alarmed to learn that @POTUS is considering sending cluster bombs to Ukraine,” Lee tweeted.
“Many people are not aware of these dangerous weapons.
“The Ukrainian people are fighting a just fight for their rights, freedom and humanity.
“The US and Ukraine do not have to stoop to Putin’s level.”
Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran who now represents Pennsylvania, said she strongly disagreed with the decision.
“I challenge the idea that we should use the same tactics that Russia is using,” she said.
And I challenge us all to remember that this war will end and the broken pieces of Ukraine will have to be rebuilt.
“History remembers not only who wins a war, but also how a war is won.”
Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern said, “I remain strongly in favor of helping Ukraine cope with Russia’s relentless war of aggression. But cluster munitions don’t help.’
And Omar and Jacobs pointed out that it was against U.S. law to transfer ammunition with a “dud rate” of more than one percent.
Ilhan Omar of Minnesota opposes sending the cluster munitions
Sara Jacobs has tabled an amendment with Omar to block the transfer
The White House plans to ignore that and send ammunition with a failure rate of up to 2.5 percent.
They filed an amendment to block the delivery.
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no military assistance shall be provided for cluster munitions, no defense export license shall be issued for cluster munitions, and no cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology shall be sold or transferred,” the amendment reads.
President Joe Biden defended his decision on Friday, saying Ukraine was running low on ammunition.
“It was a very difficult decision on my part,” he said CNN on Friday.
“By the way, I discussed this with our allies, I discussed this with our friends on the hill,” he said.
“The Ukrainians are almost out of ammunition.”
The US has decided to send controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine in support of the counter-offensive against Russian forces
“The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition,” President Joe Biden said Friday, justifying a U.S. turnaround in supplying cluster munitions to Ukraine in its bid to stave off the Russian invasion.
His remarks were aired after National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan described the handover as a “bridge” until the US was able to ramp up production of artillery shells to meet battlefield needs and replenish depleted US supplies.
Biden described the handover as a finite effort during a “period of transition” rather than an overall change in US policy.
He faced attempts to evade his government’s condemnation of Russia’s use of bombs on civilian areas during its brutal war against Ukraine.
“This is a war about ammunition. And that ammunition is running out, and we’re running out of it,” Biden said.
And so, what I finally did, I took the recommendation from the Defense Ministry to — not permanently — but to allow this transitional period while we get more 155 weapons (155mm caliber shells), these shells, for the Ukrainians ,” Biden said.
He also spoke of the challenges the Ukrainians face in their renewed offensive, as Russian troops have dug in their positions as Ukraine tries to regain territory.
“They’re trying to get through those trenches and stop those tanks. But it was not an easy decision,” Biden told the network.
“We are not signatories to that agreement, but it took me a while to be convinced to do it.
“But the main thing is that either they have the weapons to stop the Russians now – they stop the Ukrainian offensive through these areas – or they don’t. And I think they needed it.’
The Ukrainian army is slowly retaking territory and liberating some villages from Russian control, but not at the breakneck pace of some of last year’s offensives.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan took to the stage in the press room on Friday to defend the decision.
He said making the decision to send the bombs to Kiev was “not an easy one” but “we will not leave Ukraine defenseless.”
“We recognize that cluster munitions pose a risk to civilians and so we have postponed the decision as much as possible,” he said.
U.S. law prohibits shipments of cluster munitions that contain more than one percent “dud” — or fail to explode more than one percent of the time. Such bombs that do not detonate immediately can create land mines and detonate at a later date, harming civilians.
But Sullivan confirmed that President Biden had signed a waiver authorizing the transfer of such weapons with a higher percentage of duds, but said the percentage would be “no higher than 2.5 percent.”
This aerial image, taken on December 7, 2022, shows a prosecutor’s office expert examining collected remains of grenades and rockets used by the Russian military to attack the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
“Russia has been using cluster munitions to attack Ukraine since the beginning of this work.
“Russia uses cluster munitions with high dud or failure rates of between 30 and 40 percent,” Sullivan told reporters.
He said regions where the bombs would be used should already be cleared once the war is over.
“Russia has already planted tens of millions of these bombs across Ukrainian territory,” he continued.
“So we have to ask ourselves: is Ukraine’s use of cluster munitions, on that same country, really such a big addition to civilian damage, given that that area needs to be demined anyway?”