Skip to content

Biden's Myopic Decision To Use Cluster Munitions Has Escalated The Russia-Ukraine Conflict

For years to come, innocents will pay for Biden's short-sightedness.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House July 7, 2023 in Washington, DC. Sullivan discussed the U.S. decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday, "We have gotten some initial feedback from the Ukrainians, and they're using them (cluster munitions) quite effectively."

The 'effectiveness' of cluster ammunition is highly debatable, but the risks and havoc caused by them are well-documented and widely accepted. Cluster bombs are explosive weapons that disperse hundreds or even thousands of tiny but deadly bomblets over a wide area. These bomblets leave behind unexploded ordnance or duds that can injure, maim, or kill those who come in contact with them years after the conflict has ended.

For this very reason, all use, transfer, production, and stockpiling of these "inhuman" weapons were prohibited under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Over 120 nations have ratified the treaty, including 23 NATO member states. The United States, Ukraine, and Russia are not party to it.

That the U.S. administration is aware of the indiscriminate and long-term impact is clear from Linda Thomas-Greenfield's words. Responding to reports of Russia using cluster munitions, in 2022, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said that such weapons have "no place on the battlefield," further drawing attention to the fact that they are "banned under the Geneva Convention."

In a recent CNN interview, President Biden explained: “It was a very difficult decision on my part. And by the way, I discussed this with our allies; I discussed this with our friends up on the Hill,” adding, “The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.”

The rationale is counterintuitive.

The U.S. is sending weapons to Ukraine that are outlawed in America. Weapons with failure rates of more than 1% are illegal. However, the Biden administration argues that America’s cluster munitions are much safer than Russia's.

There was much opposition, from myriad quarters to the U.S. handing over the controversial weapons on Kyiv's demand. The decision to hand over the cluster bombs tested the unity of the NATO + anti-Russia coalition. Germany, Britain, and Canada strongly opposed the move. But a crisis was averted when the alliance declined to take a unified position and left it to its members' decisions. President Biden even faced resistance from his party but ignored the widespread sentiment.

Having pledged "as long as it takes" support to Kyiv, the Biden administration seems to be short of options other than to keep giving in to President Zelensky's demands. Unable to rout Russian troops and unwilling to consider a peace deal, the war is entering its eighteenth month.

The much anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive has begun. The cluster bombs are being touted as "winning weapons" even as military experts point to their "limited utility" and human rights groups warn of substantial humanitarian costs.

President Putin claims that Russia has so far not used such weapons during its invasion of Ukraine. Citing U.S. supply to Kyiv, he warned of "reciprocal action" and called attention to the Russian military's "considerable stockpile" of similar munitions.

With both sides using cluster munitions, the danger to civilians has increased significantly. Despite assurances, only time will tell how extensively it will be used and what toll these weapons will take.

President Biden remarked when the Russia-Ukraine war entered its second year, "The decisions we make over the next five years are going to determine and shape our lives for decades to come… a choice between chaos and stability." By handing over cluster munitions, President Biden has inadvertently chosen chaos.

The conflict will end, hopefully, sooner rather than later. But, Ukrainians returning home will continue to face the risk of dormant "duds" that could maim or even kill. For years to come, innocents will pay for Biden's short-sightedness.

Related Infographics

Like our insights? Show your support by becoming a paid subscriber!



Iran-Israel Military Strength Compared

Iran-Israel Military Strength Compared

Shadow warfare between Israel and Iran increasingly threatens to spill over into open conflict. Iran avoids state-on-state hostility by pursuing asymmetrical warfare through proxy armies.

Members Public