A group of congressional Democrats have broken with President Joe Biden’s decision to send controversial weapons known as cluster munitions to aid Ukraine in its war against Russia
“Cluster bombs should never be used. It’s crossing a line,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
The White House’s decision to send the weapons drew backlash not only domestically, but also from NATO allies who criticized the use of the weapons, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain.
The decision was met with opposition due to the indiscriminate harm the weapons could cause to civilians. The weapons, banned by more than 100 countries, disperse smaller explosives called “bombettes”. In some cases, some bomblets do not explode on impact and may explode later.
“Once you see what’s happening, we know what’s happening in terms of cluster bombs being very dangerous to civilians,” Lee said. “They don’t always explode immediately, children could step on them.”
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Biden acknowledged sending the weapons was a “very difficult decision,” but said he thought Ukraine needed “the ammunition” in an interview with CNN. He added that the weapons have a “very low misfire rate” and will not be used in civilian areas.
Lee warned that the United States could risk losing “moral leadership” given the destructive nature of the weapons.
“I hope the administration reconsiders that because these are very dangerous bombs, they are dangerous weapons and that’s a line I don’t believe we should cross.”
Nineteen House progressives, including Lee, signed a letter on Friday denouncing the move, saying “there is no such thing as a safe cluster bomb.”
The decision was also met with skepticism by Senate Democrats.
“I have real qualms about this,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It could give the green light for other nations to do something different as well, so that worries me.”
Viewed: Graphics look at cluster bombs, controversial weapons the US will send to Ukraine
Kaine, who serves on both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, added that he appreciates the White House’s assessment of the decision and believes Kiev’s assurances that the weapons will not would not target Russian civilians.
In a Washington Post op-ed, former Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Jeff Merkeley, D-Ore., wrote, “The last thing we need is to risk a rift with key allies. about a weapon. that the United States should lead the global interdiction effort.
But Biden has found support from congressional Republicans who back the effort against Russia.
“All the Ukrainians and (Ukrainian President Volodmyr) Zelenskyy are asking for is to give them the same weapons that the Russians have to use in their own country,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. CNN’s “State of the Union”.
“They want them as a defense to use against the Russians in their own country, Ukraine. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” McCaul added.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Congressional Democrats slam Biden over Ukraine cluster bombs