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White House sends cluster bombs to Ukraine, but previously called Russian use a possible 'war crime'

Cluster bombs include dozens of explosive submunitions, which they distribute across a wide area.

Published: July 7, 2023 5:42pm

Updated: July 7, 2023 8:02pm

The Biden administration announced on Friday that it would send controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine to bolster the country's defenses, but previously condemned Russian use of such weapons as a possible war crime.

Cluster bombs include dozens of explosive submunitions, which they distribute across a wide area. They are known to have a significant "dud" rate and human rights groups have condemned their use due to their propensity to cause civilian casualties.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday confirmed the decision to provide Kyiv with the munitions, but asserted that "Ukraine has committed to post-conflict demining efforts to mitigate any potential harm to civilians." Sullivan cited Russia's use of the weapons as a justification.

Notably, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki previously condemned Russian use of such munitions in the war as a possible war crime. In a February 2022 press briefing, Psaki field a question as to the legality of Moscow's use of the weapons.

"There are reports of illegal cluster bombs and vacuum bombs being used by the Russians," the reporter stated. "If that’s true, what is the next step of this administration?  And is there a red line for how much violence will be tolerated against civilians in this manner that’s illegal and potentially a war crime?"

"It is — it would be.  I don’t have any confirmation of that.  We have seen the reports.  If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime," Psaki replied at the time. "Obviously, there are a range of international fora that would assess that.  So, certainly, we would look to that to be a part of that conversation."

Just the News has sought comment from the White House.

Human Events' Jack Posobiec first highlighted Psaki's past statement.

Sullivan appeared conscious of public scrutiny over the decision to provide Ukraine with weapons known to easily cause civilian casualties, contending that Ukraine will be using the weapons to defend to defend their own territory and not in another country. 

"Ukraine would not be using these munitions in some foreign land. This is their country they're defending," he said. 

Neither Ukraine nor Russia have signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, though more than 100 nations have banned the use of cluster bombs.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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