National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday defended the Biden administration’s decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of a US military aid package amid pushback from some Democrats of Congress.
“Our moral authority does not come from being a signatory to the Convention against Cluster Munitions. We are not, we have not been, at any time since this convention came into force, nor has Ukraine,” Sullivan said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” .
Most NATO members have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international agreement that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of the weapon due to the risk it poses to civilians. But the United States did not sign the treaty, nor did Russia or Ukraine.
“Our moral authority and the moral authority of Ukraine in this conflict comes from the fact that we support a country under brutal and vicious attack from its neighbor with missiles and bombs raining down on its cities, killing its civilians, destroying its schools, its churches, its hospitals,” Sullivans said. “And the idea that providing Ukraine with a weapon so that it can defend its homeland, protect its civilians, is in some way a challenge to our authority moral – I find questionable.”
He added: “I would say that we are mobilizing to give Ukraine what it needs so that it is not defenseless against a Russian attack.”
The administration’s recent decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of a US military assistance program was welcomed by some Democratic lawmakers, who noted that surface-to-surface warheads, which scatter small munitions or bombs over large areas, can explode after battle, and sometimes injure or kill innocent people.
Biden has defended what he called his “very difficult decision” to supply cluster munitions to Ukraine, telling CNN last week that the war-torn country “needs” the controversial weapons to stand up. defend Russian troops.
“It took me a while to convince myself to do it. But the bottom line is that they have the weapons to stop the Russians now – to stop them from stopping the Ukrainian offensive through these areas – or they don’t. And I think they needed it,” Biden said in an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also claimed that Ukraine would be “defenseless” if the United States had not decided to supply the weapon.
“The stockpiles of unit ammunition globally and in Ukraine, not cluster munitions, were running out, were about to run out,” Blinken said in an interview for MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” at the NATO summit in Lithuania.
“And so the difficult but necessary choice to give them cluster munitions came down to this: if we don’t, we don’t, then they will run out of ammunition. If they run out of ammo, they will be defenseless.
Sullivan also said Sunday that Ukraine will have to take further steps to meet standards of “democratic reform” before it can join NATO, an alliance whose fundamental commitment is the mutual defense of all its members.
“Every member of the alliance, every country that seeks to join NATO, must meet certain standards of democratic reform,” he said. “And Ukraine’s own annual national programme, which it agreed with NATO a few years ago, indicates that there are further steps it needs to take on the road to democratic reform. “
“When they are completed, Ukraine will be fully able to move forward and meet all the requirements to enter NATO,” he added.
kyiv has maintained that it will not be safe from Moscow until it is admitted into NATO.
Sullivan noted that the United States and its NATO allies have “stepped up to provide unprecedented levels of support” to Ukraine.
“All we can do in the Biden administration is get up every day and work as hard as we can alongside our allies and partners to get Ukraine what it needs as quickly as possible. ‘she needs it to be successful in this endeavor,’ he said.
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com