Ukraine has been seeking cluster bombs from the US to use in its war against Russian forces and is now asking for a type of the controversial munition that they want to adapt so they can be dropped from drones, Reuters reported on Monday.
According to House Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Jason Crow (D-CO), Ukraine is seeking the MK-20, an air-delivered cluster bomb. They said Ukrainian officials were asking members of Congress to persuade the White House to sign off on the delivery during the recent Munich Security Conference.
Cluster munitions scatter small bombs over large areas, making them more indiscriminate than other munitions. According to Reuters, the MK-20 releases 240 dart-like submunitions or bomblets after being launched.
The bomblets in cluster munitions often don’t explode on impact, making them a huge danger to civilians who come across them, similar to land mines. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions that bans the weapons has over 100 signatories, but the US, Russia, and Ukraine are not parties to the treaty.
Since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022, both Russian and Ukrainian forces have used cluster munitions. Kiev was also accused of using the bombs in populated areas of Donetsk back in 2014.
While the US hasn’t banned cluster bombs, its forces haven’t used them since one known incident in Yemen in 2009. The US had been producing and selling cluster bombs to its allies until a few years ago. In 2016, Textron Systems Corporation stopped producing MK-20s when the US stopped selling them to Saudi Arabia. But a congressional aide told Reuters that there are about one million of the bombs in US military stockpiles.
Sen. Lindsey Graham also said that Ukrainian officials were pushing for US lawmakers to pressure the Biden administration to provide cluster bombs in Munich. Graham favors sending the munitions and said he would lobby for them this week. Besides the MK-20s, Ukraine also wants 155mm cluster artillery shells.
Rep. Smith said he didn’t think that the Biden administration would sign off on the delivery of the controversial munitions. Rep. Crow said he might support arming Ukraine with the MK-20s if Kiev would remove the bomblets and “use them in a non-cluster employment.”
This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.