In a recent interview with NBC News, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan defended President Joe Biden’s decision to provide controversial cluster bombs to Ukraine in their conflict against Russia. Sullivan dismissed claims that this move would undermine Washington’s “moral authority.” He argued that the moral authority of both the US and Ukraine in this conflict comes from their support of a country under a brutal attack from its neighbor, with missiles and bombs wreaking havoc on its cities and causing civilian casualties.
Sullivan acknowledged that cluster bombs are outlawed under an international treaty signed by over 100 countries. However, he noted that neither the US nor Ukraine are signatories to that pact, therefore they are not bound by its restrictions. He emphasized that the purpose of providing Ukraine with these weapons is to enable them to defend their homeland and protect their civilians.
NBC host Chuck Todd raised concerns about the US’s previous efforts to eliminate such weapons and the contradiction in supplying them to an ally now. Sullivan explained that the circumstances have changed, necessitating Biden’s decision. He pointed out that the UK, Canada, and other NATO allies disagreed with this move, but emphasized that it was crucial to prevent Ukraine from being defenseless against a Russian onslaught.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview, criticized the US’s supply of cluster bombs to Ukraine, referring to it as a war crime. He warned that if Ukrainian forces use these weapons on the battlefield, Russia reserves the right to respond accordingly.
Cluster munitions have been globally banned due to the threat they pose to civilians. Amnesty International reports that since World War II, these weapons have claimed the lives of around 86,500 civilians and caused countless injuries. Critics argue that providing such weaponry to Ukraine could escalate the conflict and lead to further civilian casualties.
Sullivan rejected concerns that Putin might be waiting for Biden’s term to end in 2024. He dismissed the idea that Putin is banking on faltering American resolve, stating that if that is the case, he will continue to lose that bet.
The controversy surrounding the US’s supply of cluster bombs to Ukraine highlights the complex dynamics of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. While the US argues that it is necessary to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, critics point to the potential humanitarian consequences and the contradiction with previous efforts to eliminate cluster munitions. The situation remains tense, and the international community continues to monitor developments in the region closely.