White House says Sunak was meeting ‘legal obligation’ when he discouraged cluster bombs
The White House on Sunday dismissed mild criticism from allies, including the British prime minister, about supplying deadly cluster munitions to Ukraine.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the backlash on his way to London, after some of Biden’s Democratic allies and allied nations criticized the move, citing concerns that cluster bombs could leave years of unexploded ordnance that could eventually maim civilians.
It came at the start of a trip across three countries, where Biden will talk to allies about the war in Ukraine and meet with King Charles and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The US is not among the 123 countries that have signed a convention banning the use of the weapons Ukraine believes it can use against entrenched Russian positions amid its offensive to recapture conquered territory.
The Prime Minister explained the legal position of the UK that they are a signatory to the Oslo Convention, the United States is not. That is a signatory bank that discourages the use of these weapons. He fulfilled his legal obligation, but I think you will find Prime Minister Sunak and President Biden strategically on the same page on Ukraine, aligned with the bigger picture of what we are trying to achieve, and as always, both are united in this conflict. and write big.
“I don’t think you’re going to see any rift, division, or disagreement as a result of this decision,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, aboard Air Force One with President Biden, amid backlash over the decision. the government to supply cluster munitions to Ukraine.
“And I think that will be repeated with all the leaders of the Alliance. I don’t think you will see rifts, divisions or disagreements as a result of this decision, even though many of the allies, the signatories to Oslo, are in a position where they cannot say for themselves that we are in favor of cluster munitions. But we have not heard from anyone saying that this calls into question our commitment, hinders the unity of the coalition, or our belief that the United States plays a vital and positive role as leader of this coalition in Ukraine. ‘
It came during a briefing with reporters traveling with the president, where Sullivan said Biden called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.
He said the two men spent 45 minutes talking about a “number of issues,” including Turkey’s “robust and steadfast support” for Ukraine’s defensive needs.
They also talked about Sweden’s bid to join NATO, “and they agreed they have the chance to sit down together and build this.”
The comments came after Biden drew backlash from members of his own party on Sunday after deciding to send controversial cluster bombs to Ukraine.
“We will continue to do our part to support Ukraine against the illegal and unprovoked invasion of Russia, but we have done so by supplying heavy battle tanks and recently long-range weapons, and hopefully all countries can continue to support Ukraine,” the British said. PM Rishi Sunak
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said ‘I don’t think you’re going to see rifts, divisions or disagreements’ as a result of the cluster munitions decision
The president came under fire from Democrats and key NATO allies such as Britain when he flew to the UK for climate talks with King Charles.
Top Democratic senator Tim Kaine said he had “genuine doubts” about Biden’s effort to send the widespread weapons to Kiev’s armed forces.
“It could give other countries the green light to do something else as well,” he told Fox News.
But the former vice presidential candidate added: “They are not going to use this munitions against Russian civilians.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, representing California, urged the Biden administration to reconsider the move.
Cluster bombs should never be used. That’s crossing a line,” she said Sunday, adding that the United States risked losing its “moral leadership” by sending cluster bombs to Ukraine.
Biden refuted criticism of his move to send cluster bombs in an interview with CNN
But the president was defiant in an interview with CNN on Saturday, insisting that cluster bombs would help the Ukrainian military drive Russian troops out of their country.
“The important thing is that they either have the weapons to stop the Russians from stopping the Ukrainian offensive through these areas, or they don’t,” Biden said.
Speaker of the House of State Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, mentioned the cluster bombs “a game-changer” in the war in Ukraine, pointing out that “Russia drops cluster bombs with impunity” on Ukrainian territory.
“All the Ukrainians and (President Volodymyr) Zelensky are asking for is to give them the same weapons that the Russians can use in their own country against Russians who are in their own country,” he said. “They don’t want these used in Russia.”
Unlike most of its Western allies, the United States has never signed the international treaty banning the use of cluster bombs in armed conflict.
They can be dropped from the air or shot down from the ground or sea, releasing dozens or sometimes hundreds of ‘bombs’ that can be scattered over a wide area.
They were first used in World War II to destroy multiple scattered military targets or combatants.
The commander-in-chief confirmed on Friday that the highly lethal weapons would be part of a new $800 million security package.
It means US military aid now exceeds $40 billion since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Rights groups and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have questioned Washington’s decision on the munitions.
And several governments of the 30-nation military alliance have expressed dismay at the government’s decision to send the highly lethal weapons to Kiev’s armed forces.
The UK, Spain, Canada and New Zealand have all criticized the move to send the widespread munitions to the war-torn country, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying he was “discouraging their use.”
A senior German government source suggested that Berlin supports the US move, despite Germany being a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions.
“Ukraine is only using munitions to liberate its own territory and protect its own civilian population,” the official said.
France also supported the move, despite scrapping its own cluster bomb manufacture some two decades ago.
A senior French foreign ministry official said it “understood” Biden’s action “to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s unlawful aggression.”
The tensions come ahead of a major NATO meeting later this week in the Baltic nation of Lithuania, where the alliance’s support for Ukraine will be assessed.
Zelensky, seen here with Polish President Andrzej Duda, is expected to attend the NATO meeting in Lithuania
Senior NATO sources have told DailyMail.com that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be at the big summit to advocate for Kiev’s eventual membership in the club.
Biden’s visit to the UK also follows a series of high-profile blunders that have been labeled “anti-British” by the country’s tabloid press.
He skipped Charles’s coronation in May and made an off-the-cuff remark about his visit to Ireland, which he claimed was to “make sure the British don’t mess around” with the Good Friday Agreement, the peace deal which ended years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
The Commander-in-Chief is also accused of blocking British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace’s bid for the role of Secretary General of NATO, angering the British Conservative Party.
The Daily Telegraph reported last week that Biden wants Ursula von der Leyen, a former German defense minister who is now head of the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission.
The spat between two key NATO allies meant Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, was asked to extend his term for another year.