US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin defended the controversial decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions, stating that Ukraine is fighting to defend its sovereign territory and not seeking to invade other countries. Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Austin highlighted that Russia has been using cluster munitions since the beginning of the conflict.
Cluster munitions are widely criticized for their indiscriminate nature and long-term risk to civilians, similar to landmines. While over 100 countries have banned cluster munitions under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the US, Ukraine, and Russia are not signatories to the ban.
Austin emphasized that Ukraine has committed to using the munitions only in appropriate places and not in populated areas. The Ukrainian forces will keep records of the locations where the munitions are used and prioritize demining efforts. The US will assist Ukraine in these efforts. When asked about the duration of US support, Austin refrained from providing a specific timeline, stating that the focus is on ensuring Ukraine’s success in its fight and providing the necessary support for their maneuver.