White House says Ukraine using US cluster weapons on battlefield – Times of India

Kiev: Ukrainian forces are using cluster munitions supplied by the United States on the battlefield, the White House said, as Kiev seeks momentum in its retaliatory strike.
Washington provided arms to Ukraine for the first time earlier this month, as Kiev seeks to drive away strong Russian forces and retake ground lost in the early months of last year’s invasion of Moscow.
The weapon, which dispenses several hundred small explosives that can remain in the ground without detonating, is banned by many countries because of the long-term risk to civilians.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday that Ukrainian forces began using the munitions “in the last week or so.”
“They’re using them appropriately, they’re using them effectively, and they’re actually having an impact on Russia’s defensive structures and Russia’s defensive maneuvers,” he said.
Moscow’s forces still hold large swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine and Kiev’s long-awaited counteroffensive has seen large swaths of the front frozen for more than a month.
Earlier this week a senior aide to the president in Kiev told AFP the operation would be “long and difficult”.
Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that Russia attacked the Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Odessa with drones and missiles in “hellish” attacks for the third night in a row.
At least three people were killed and more than 20 wounded in the attacks, officials said, posting pictures of buildings engulfed in flames and partially collapsed.
In Odessa, one person was found “under the rubble”, regional governor Oleg Kiper said, while an elderly couple died in Mykolaiv.
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.
“I told him he should go away and now he is dead.”
On Thursday, Kiev said it would consider ships headed to Russian-controlled ports in the Black Sea as potential carriers of military cargo.
The announcement reflects Russia’s move after the Kremlin backed out of a key grain export deal that would have facilitated the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea.
Following Russia’s invasion last year, its warships blockaded Ukraine’s ports until the two sides agreed a grain export deal mediated by the United Nations and Turkey.
This made it possible to export more than 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain last year, providing relief to countries facing severe food shortages, such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Yemen.
But Moscow said on Monday it was pulling out of the deal after months of complaining that provisions allowing exports of Russian food and fertilizers were not respected.
Since the collapse of the deal, Ukraine has accused Russia of targeting infrastructure critical to grain supplies and grain shipments.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture said the attack on Odessa destroyed 60,000 tonnes of grain meant for export from a major global producer.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the impact of the attacks went far beyond Ukraine.
“We are already seeing negative effects on global wheat and corn prices, which hurts everyone, but especially vulnerable people in the global south,” Guterres said in a statement by his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric.
Ukraine has already said it will be ready to continue exporting grain from its southern ports despite Russian threats. It has called on the United Nations and neighboring countries to secure safe passage for cargo through joint patrols.
Moscow’s appointed governor said a Ukrainian drone strike in Crimea damaged four administrative buildings and killed a teenage girl.
It comes a day after an unknown fire broke out at a military site earlier this week and an attack on the only bridge linking the enclosed peninsula to mainland Russia.
A security source told AFP that Ukrainian forces attacked the Kerch bridge using maritime drones.
On the front, fighting is concentrated in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev’s counter-offensive is making slow progress against Russia’s defensive lines.
In the New York ghetto, which is made up of smoke from nearby battlefields, Russian airstrikes have targeted its chemical factory.
“Maybe it’s because their attack on our village has stopped,” 34-year-old plant director Sergiy Dimitrenko told AFP.
“Maybe this is their new strategy.”

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