President Biden on Friday defended the decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine, saying the Ukrainians needed them.
“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,” Biden told CNN in an interview that is set to air Sunday.
“The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition,” he added, noting the “main thing” is whether the Ukrainians have the weapons to stop the Russians.
“I think they needed them,” he said of the cluster munitions.
Cluster munitions are dropped by aircraft or fired by a ground-based weapons system over a target area, spreading out a few dozen to hundreds of submunitions. The decision to send the weapons, which can strike multiple targets, comes as Ukrainian forces are expending high rates of ammunition and are making slow progress in their counteroffensive.
“This is a war relating to munitions. And they’re running out of that ammunition, and we’re low on it,” Biden told CNN. “What I finally did, I took the recommendation of the Defense Department to, not permanently, but to allow for this transition period, while we get more 155 weapons, these shells, for the Ukrainians.”
“They’re trying to get through those trenches and stop those tanks from rolling. But it was not an easy decision,” the president told CNN. “We’re not signatories to that agreement, but it took me a while to be convinced to do it.”
The approval of the transfer has sparked concern from human rights groups and some congressional lawmakers over the weapon’s ability to harm civilians and children long after the bombs have fallen.
The weapons are banned by more than 100 countries because the submunitions spread out imprecisely, often fail to detonate and remain as explosive hazards for decades.
Source: The Hill