WASHINGTON, June 30 (Xinhua) — The United States is considering supplying Ukraine with cluster munitions, a senior U.S. military official said Friday.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. had been considering supplying the munitions “for a long time.”
He noted that Russian forces are using these weapons on Ukrainian battlefields, and Ukrainian forces have also received cluster bombs from other allies and deployed them.
Milley told the National Press Club that discussions are continuing.
“The Ukrainians requested it, other European countries provided some of it, and the Russians are using it,” Milley said. “The decision-making process is ongoing.”
He also dismissed concerns that the Ukrainian counteroffensive was moving too slowly. Miller said he thinks the initial campaign will take six to 10 weeks. “It’s going to be very difficult. It’s going to be a long time,” Milley said. “Nobody should have any illusions about that.”
As they consider whether to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions, some U.S. officials are concerned about the slow progress of the long-awaited counteroffensive. Any decision to supply such weapons would draw opposition from other allies and humanitarian groups.
Cluster bombs are weapons that open in the air to release sub-munitions, or “small bombs,” that are spread over a large area and designed to cause damage to multiple targets simultaneously.
According to the ICRC, the bombs can be delivered by aircraft, artillery and missiles. According to the ICRC, “small bombs” have a high failure rate, as high as 40 percent in some recent conflicts.
Proponents of a ban on cluster bombs say they cause indiscriminate killing and endanger civilians long after they are used. Several groups have sounded the alarm over Russia’s use of the munitions in Ukraine.
Most Western officials would not publicly suggest that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is moving too slowly, but there is a growing sense that Ukraine needs to seize on weather, ground conditions and any impact last weekend’s insurgency might have on Russia’s military cohesion.
If Russian President Vladimir Putin goes after officials who may be sympathetic to mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian military will now have to absorb Wagner’s troops into its ranks and make command adjustments . Even before Prigozhin’s rebellion, the Russian military was dealing with logistical and morale challenges.
While the U.S. has stressed that when and where Ukraine takes action is entirely up to the U.S., there are concerns that Ukraine has not acted sooner. The U.S. and Western allies have been training and equipping Ukrainian troops for months in anticipation of combat, but many of those troops have yet to fight.
Ukrainian advances have been slowed by dense minefields and other obstacles defending Russian lines, but the Biden administration has provided equipment to help overcome the problem, a U.S. official said. (Associated Press)
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