Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Melnik has ignited a heated exchange with a German lawmaker over the delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine. Melnik, known for his confrontational style, told the lawmaker to “go to hell” for opposing the shipment of these controversial weapons.
The German MP, Ralf Stenger, had tweeted his opposition to the use of cluster munitions, stating that they are internationally outlawed and should not be supplied to Ukraine. Stenger, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD party, emphasized the importance of adhering to international order and values.
The delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine was authorized by US President Joe Biden, despite his administration previously referring to their use as a potential war crime. Biden justified his decision by citing a shortage of conventional ammunition due to Ukraine’s high consumption rate during its ongoing counteroffensive.
However, Biden’s policy shift has drawn criticism from some of America’s NATO allies, including Canada, Spain, and the UK. These countries have expressed concern over the implications of supplying cluster munitions to Ukraine and the potential escalation of the conflict.
Melnik, known for his outspoken nature, reacted strongly to Stenger’s tweet. He dismissed the German lawmaker’s advice and accused him of having no understanding of the situation in Ukraine. Melnik challenged Stenger to consider the suffering of the Ukrainian people and questioned whether he had ever experienced war firsthand.
Melnik’s previous role as Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany was marked by public controversies. He openly expressed admiration for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian Nazi collaborator, which resulted in his recall to Kiev. During his tenure, Melnik also criticized the German government for its slow provision of military assistance and clashed with Chancellor Scholz.
In addition to his confrontations on the diplomatic front, Melnik has made headlines for his online disputes. He engaged in a Twitter feud with billionaire Elon Musk, telling him to “f**k off” over his proposed peaceful settlement of the conflict with Russia.
Despite his tumultuous tenure as ambassador to Germany, Melnik has recently been appointed as Ukraine’s envoy to Brazil. However, he has not yet assumed his new post.
Cluster munitions are a contentious weapon due to their indiscriminate nature. They scatter small bomblets over a wide area, some of which may fail to explode immediately and pose long-term risks to civilians even after a conflict ends. Over 110 countries have ratified a UN convention banning the use and transfer of cluster munitions, but the US, Russia, and Ukraine are not among the signatories.
The delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine has raised concerns within the international community, particularly among countries that have ratified the ban. Critics argue that the use of such weapons can lead to significant harm to civilians and should be avoided to uphold humanitarian values in warfare.
As the controversy surrounding the delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine continues, it remains to be seen how this decision will impact the ongoing conflict and the broader international discourse on the use of these weapons.