"It was a very difficult decision on my part. And by the way, I discussed this with our allies, I discussed this with our friends up on the Hill," Biden said in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, but then added, "the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition."
The cluster bombs Biden is sending will be "compatible with US-provided 155mm howitzers, a key piece of artillery that has allowed Ukraine to win back territory over the last year," CNN reported.
"This is a war relating to munitions. And they’re running out of that ammunition, and we’re low on it," Biden told Zakaria. "And so, what I finally did, I took the recommendation of the Defense Department to – not permanently – but to allow for this transition period, while we get more 155 weapons, these shells, for the Ukrainians."
"They’re trying to get through those trenches and stop those tanks from rolling. But it was not an easy decision," he continued. "We’re not signatories to that agreement, but it took me a while to be convinced to do it."
Still, he was convinced, despite the humanitarian concerns of America's major allies. He also said he thinks Ukraine "needed them."
"But the main thing is they either have the weapons to stop the Russians now – keep them from stopping the Ukrainian offensive through these areas – or they don’t. And I think they needed them," he said.
Cluster bombs can leave unexploded ordnance embedded in the ground only to maim or kill civilians years after the war is over. The munitions detonate dozens of what are called "bomblets," and some can be left behind, unexploded. This creates, essentially, land mines for civilians who accidentally stumble upon the bomblets years later.
In a White House press briefing on February 28, 2022, then-press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the use of cluster bombs in the conflict, and said they were a "war crime."
"There are reports of illegal cluster bombs and vacuum bombs being used by the Russians," a reporter asked Paski. "If that’s true, what is the next step of this administration? And is there a red line for how much violence will be tolerated against civilians in this manner that’s illegal and potentially a war crime?"
"We have seen the reports," Psaki said. "If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime."
Ukraine recently launched a counter-offensive against Russia that has been underwhelming and has not met expectations. President Volodymyr Zelensky made claims earlier this week that Russia had mined a nuclear power plant under their control, though satellite images as well as an inspection from the IAEA revealed that no explosives were present.
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