White House says Ukraine using US cluster munitions on battlefield
KYIV, Ukraine, July 21, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – Ukrainian forces are using United States-supplied cluster munitions on the battlefield, the White House said, as Kyiv seeks momentum in its grinding counteroffensive.
Washington provided the weapons to Ukraine for the first time earlier this month as Kyiv attempts to dislodge entrenched Russian forces and retake land lost in the early months of Moscow’s invasion last year.
The weapons, which disperse up to several hundred small explosive charges that can remain unexploded in the ground, are banned by many countries because of the long-term risks they pose to civilians.
Ukraine’s forces started using the munitions “in the last week or so”, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.
“They’re using them appropriately, they’re using them effectively and they are actually having an impact on Russia’s defensive formations and Russia’s defensive manoeuvring,” he said.
Moscow’s forces still occupy swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine and over a month into Kyiv’s long-anticipated counteroffensive, large parts of the front appear to be frozen.
Earlier this week a senior presidential aide in Kyiv told AFP the operation would be “long and difficult”.
Russia hit the Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Odesa with drones and missiles in the third consecutive night of “hellish” strikes, Ukrainian officials said Thursday.
At least three people died and more than 20 were injured in the strikes, officials said, posting images of buildings in flames and partially collapsed.
In Odesa, a man was found “under the rubble”, regional governor Oleg Kiper said, while in Mykolaiv an elderly couple were killed.
Oleksiy Luganchenko, 72, stood outside a collapsed building in the city, saying the dead couple were his sister and her husband.
“Who needs this war?” Luganchenko said.