White House says Kiev uses cluster weapons delivered by Washington

The White House said Kiev has begun using controversial cluster weapons supplied by the United States, as Ukraine seeks to build momentum in its retaliatory offensive against Russian forces.

In an interview broadcast by CNN channel in early July, US President Joe Biden admitted that he had made a “very difficult decision” by giving these weapons to Ukraine, justifying the fact that Kiev is “out of ammunition”.

Asked whether Washington’s cluster weapons are now being deployed and used by Kiev, White House spokesman John Kirby replied, “Yes.”

According to Mr Kirby, the deployment of these weapons at the front took place “about last week”.

Ukrainian forces “use them appropriately. They use them effectively and they have a real impact on Russian defensive structures and defensive manoeuvres”, the spokesman told reporters from Moscow.

Cluster munitions can spread several hundred small explosive charges, which may remain in the ground without detonating and pose a threat to civilians long after the conflict has ended.

They are banned by many countries, especially European, signatories to a convention signed in Oslo in 2008 and to which neither Russia, nor the United States, nor Ukraine are parties.

“Russia has a good supply of cluster munitions,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with the public television channel “Russia-1” broadcast on Sunday. They threatened to use them on the front if Kiev used this type of weapon.

Ukrainian troops have accused Moscow of using the controversial munitions since the beginning of the conflict.

– Kyiv Alert –

Towards the Black Sea, which has focused the attention of the belligerents since the expiration of a key agreement for world food, Ukraine warned on Thursday that it would treat boats headed to ports controlled by Moscow as potential carriers of military equipment “with all the associated risks”, as Russia did after Russia earlier withdrew from the accord.

During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Odessa suffered Russian attacks, which United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly” condemned.

At least three people were killed and more than 20 were injured in the drone and missile attacks, officials said. In Mykolaiv, “at least five residential buildings were damaged,” said Mayor Aleksandr Sienkiewicz.

“Hell’s night for our people!” The head of the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Service, Sergiy Krauk, of the Ukrainian Air Force indicated that Moscow launched a total of 38 missiles and drones on the two cities.

Guterres spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said, “The impact of these attacks extends far beyond Ukraine. We are already seeing negative effects on world wheat and corn prices, which hurts everyone, especially vulnerable populations in southern countries.”

Kiev has accused Moscow of specifically targeting its port infrastructure to block any possible resumption of Ukrainian grain exports.

During the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, Moscow targeted the grain terminals and port infrastructure of Odessa and Chornomorsk, destroying silos and notably destroying 60,000 tonnes of grain.

The Russian military again on Thursday claimed to have hit only military targets, destroying production sites and storage of naval drones in Odessa and ammunition and fuel depots in Mykolaiv.

Denouncing barriers to trade in its own fertilizers and farm products, the Kremlin on Tuesday pulled out of a deal signed in July 2022 that had allowed Kiev to export its grain despite the war and the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Accusing the West of “political blackmail”, the head of the Kremlin assured on Wednesday that Russia is ready to return to the accord if its demands are met “in full”.

Kiev has requested the establishment of naval “military patrols” under the command of the United Nations, but so far there has been no response.

– No significant progress on the front –

In the northwest of Crimea, a teenager was also killed in an attack that damaged four administrative buildings overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, said Moscow-installed local governor Sergei Aksionov.

More than 2,000 people were required to be evacuated as a fire that broke out on Wednesday on military land in eastern Crimea continued on Thursday.

Kiev has not claimed it, but regularly attacks garrisons or stores of Russian equipment inside the lines, as far as the Crimean peninsula.

On the front, fighting is concentrated in eastern Ukraine where the two armies are facing each other without any significant progress.

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