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Cluster bombs to Ukraine: Lawmakers split on Biden's green light of controversial weapon

Lawmakers took to the Sunday morning news shows to discuss President Biden’s authorization of cluster bombs to Ukraine last week, a decision that some of his own Democratic allies said they could not fully back.

Democrats and Republicans were split, with members of both parties siding with and against Biden’s decision. Those against mainly cited the threat the weapons pose on civilian’s safety.

The Biden administration announced last week that it planned to provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, which contain multiple explosive submunitions and are banned by many countries due to the risks.

Biden has defended his decision, saying in an interview with CNN that he believes Ukraine “needed them.” He also said that it was a “very difficult decision” made after discussing it with allies and lawmakers.

Democrats on Sunday shows appeared be torn on whether to support the cluster bombs. California Rep. Barbara Lee (D) took aim at Biden’s approval of cluster munitions to Ukraine as the country prepares a counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion.

“Cluster bombs should never be used. That’s crossing a line,” Lee said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Once you see what takes place, we know what takes place in terms of cluster bombs being very dangerous to civilians. They don’t always immediately explode. Children can step on them. That’s a line we should not cross,” she added.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) also expressed concerns about the cluster munitions on Sunday, saying that he has some “real qualms” about the decision. He pointed to a 2008 treaty signed by 123 countries that pledged not to use cluster munition weapons in war, but the U.S., Russia and Ukraine are not signatories on the treaty.

He did offer some praise for the Biden administration’s agreement with Ukraine so it will use them “in a way to dislodge Russian military while minimizing risks to Ukrainian civilians.”

“I would still say, though, I have some real qualms about it,” he told anchor Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.” “When there’s an international prohibition, and the U.S. says, ‘But here’s a good reason to do something different,’ it could give a green light to other nations to do something different as well.”

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) said Sunday that he backed Biden’s “tough call” to send the weapons to Ukraine, adding that the country was burning through artillery munitions “at a remarkable rate.” He also said that the Ukrainians “are at risk of losing this counter offensive if they run out of their shells,” which is why he backed the decision.

“It’s the Ukrainians who are asking to be able to use these on their own soil. They’ve committed to monitoring their use, to remediating them after the war. And frankly, they will be tactically helpful against dug-in Russian troops that are behind large mine fields. So, weighing all of those factors, the president made a tough call that I will support,” Coons said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), meanwhile, said Sunday that he sees no wrong in sending cluster munitions to Ukraine, noting that they could actually be a “game changer” in its efforts against the Russia invasion.

McCaul has been a frequent critic of what he sees as the Biden administration moving to slow to provide Ukraine with military weaponry.

“They want these as self-defense to use against Russians in their own country of Ukraine. I don’t see anything wrong with that because, quite honestly, … as you look at the counteroffensive, it’s been slowed tremendously because this administration has been so slow to get the weapons in,” McCaul said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Source: The Hill

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