Biden defends controversial delivery of cluster bombs to Ukraine

President Joe Biden.
(Image credit: Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden on Friday defended his decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine, even as some Democratic lawmakers decried the move.

In an interview with CNN, Biden said that the sending of cluster bombs was a "difficult" choice, but a necessary one because "the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition." Biden added that he had "discussed this with our allies, I discussed this with our friends up on the Hill" prior to making the decision.

Biden's interview came hours after the White House confirmed that it would send the cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of a new aid package. The munitions being sent will be used in American-provided 155mm howitzers, which Reuters noted has become a key piece of artillery in Ukraine's counteroffensive against the Russian invasion.

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Though they are the latest in a long line of weapons sent to Ukraine, the choice to send cluster munitions has proven especially controversial. Cluster bombs open in midair to release hundreds of smaller particles, called "bomblets," that can rain down on numerous targets at once. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that cluster bombs "can kill and injure large numbers of civilians and cause long-lasting socioeconomic problems." A 2008 treaty prohibited the use of cluster bombs, but neither the U.S., Ukraine, nor Russia have signed this document.

Following the White House's decision, a number of top Democrats broke with Biden, lambasting his choice to send Ukraine the weaponry. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Mo.), the ranking member of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations, released a statement calling the decision "unnecessary and a terrible mistake," saying the move "undermines our moral authority and places the U.S. in a position that directly contradicts 23 of our NATO allies." Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) tweeted that the sending of cluster munitions was not the proper way to support Ukraine.

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.