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Russia Tells US Not to Send ‘More and More Lethal’ Weapons to Ukraine

The US should not provide Ukraine with “more and more lethal, long-range, complex modern systems,” according to a Russian official, as the war that began with Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, continues.

“The United States, in fact, every day, and this is not an exaggeration, demonstrates the will to move along the path of escalation,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the Tass state news agency on Wednesday, referencing cluster munitions.

Cluster munitions release multiple smaller bombs or submunitions over a wider area, which can place civilians in harm’s way. They are banned in more than 120 countries, but Ukraine is currently the only country in which they are being used, according to a report by Human Rights Watch from September 2022.

On Tuesday, a group of Republican lawmakers pressed US President Joe Biden to send cluster munitions, such as dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, to Ukraine. Providing the munitions “will allow Ukraine to compensate for Russia’s quantitative advantage in both personnel and artillery rounds,” the letter read.

“Vague concerns about the reaction of allies and partners and unfounded fears of ‘escalation'” should not deter their use, the letter continued.

The “immediate consequences” of not sending these types of munitions are “playing out on the battlefield in Bakhmut and elsewhere in Ukraine today,” the congressmen wrote.

The embattled city of Bakhmut, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, has seen months of bitter fighting.

This month, Reuters reported that Ukraine was hoping to receive the MK-20 air-delivered cluster bomb from the US, as well as 155mm artillery cluster shells.

Russia has made “extensive use” of cluster munitions in Ukraine, showing a “blatant disregard for human life, humanitarian principles, and legal norms,” ​​Human Rights Watch’s arms advocacy director, Mary Wareham, said in August 2022.

Neither Russia nor the US has signed up to the United Nations’ Convention on Cluster Munitions. The treaty makes it illegal to use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile or transfer cluster munitions, as well as assisting or encouraging other parties to do so.

“More and more lethal, long-range, complex modern systems are being considered to saturate the battlefield with them from the Ukrainian side, and thus the United States again and again confirms its status as a party directly involved in this conflict,” Ryabkov said .

Previous US policy said cluster munitions can be used only if they leave behind less than 1 percent of their submunitions or smaller bombs as duds, according to Human Rights Watch, or that “possess advanced features to minimize the risks posed by unexploded submunitions,” according to the Department of Defense (DOD). Unexploded submunitions can pose a long-term danger to civilians.

However, the policy was reversed in 2017, when the DOD said it would “retain cluster munitions currently in inventories” until they are replaced by “more reliable munitions.” However, the 1 percent limit still applies to exporting cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch said. To do so to Ukraine, a waiver from the US government on export laws would be needed, according to The Washington Post.

Newsweek has reached out to the Department of Defense via email for comment.

The US should not provide Ukraine with “more and more lethal, long-range, complex modern systems,” according to a Russian official, as the war that began with Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, continues.

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