US to send cluster munitions to Ukraine, NATO pledges membership

(Reuters) – The United States said on Friday it would supply Ukraine with widely banned cluster munitions for its counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces, and the NATO chief said that the military alliance would unite at a summit next week on how to bring Ukraine closer together.

Rights groups and the UN secretary-general have questioned Washington’s decision on munitions, which are part of an $800 million security package that brings total US military aid to more than $40 billion since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who describes the conflict as a “special military operation” to protect Russian security, said the United States and its allies were waging an expanding proxy war.

The cluster munitions “will be delivered in a timeframe relevant to the counteroffensive,” a Pentagon official told reporters.

Cluster munitions are banned by more than 100 countries. They usually release large numbers of small bombs that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area and those that do not explode pose a danger for decades after a conflict has ended.

“Ukraine has provided written assurances that it will use them very carefully” to minimize the risk to civilians, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

US President Joe Biden described the decision on cluster bombs as difficult, but said Ukraine needed it.

“They’re trying to get through those trenches and keep those tanks from rolling,” Biden said in an interview with CNN. “It was not an easy decision.”

Grigory Karasin, head of the international committee of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, expressed “serious concern” about the decisions of Washington and the NATO leadership, the RIA news agency reported. He quoted Karasin as saying that Russia “of course will respond to that”.

Ukraine says it has recaptured some villages in southern Ukraine since the counteroffensive began in early June, but lacks the firepower and air cover to advance faster.

Reuters could not independently verify the situation on the battlefield.

“It’s too early to judge how the counteroffensive is going one way or the other, because we’re at the beginning of the middle,” Colin Kahl, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Defense, told reporters. policy.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey a day after talks in Bulgaria to mobilize support for NATO membership ahead of the July 11-12 alliance summit.

In Prague he obtained a pledge of support for Ukraine to join NATO “as soon as the war is over”, and in Sofia he obtained support for membership “as soon as the conditions allow it”. will allow”.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that Ukraine would become a member.

“Our summit will send a clear message: NATO stands united and Russia’s aggression will not pay off,” Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels.

It remains to be seen what Ukraine will be offered next week at the summit in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. The alliance is divided on how quickly Ukraine should move toward membership, and some countries are wary of any move that could bring NATO closer to war with Russia.

Zelenskiy acknowledged that kyiv is unlikely to join NATO while it is at war with Russia. Putin has threatened unspecified action if Ukraine joins NATO.


At the United Nations, aid chief Martin Griffiths has warned Russia that it should not “reject” a deal reached a year ago on the safe passage of wartime agricultural exports, known as the name of Black Sea Grain Initiative.

If Russia does not agree to extend the agreement which allows the export of grain and fertilizers from Ukrainian ports, it is unlikely that Western states will continue to cooperate with UN officials helping Moscow with its exports, Griffiths told reporters.

Russia has threatened to back out of the deal, which expires on July 17, as several export demands for its own grain and fertilizers have not been met. The last three ships traveling under the deal are loading cargo in the Ukrainian port of Odessa and are expected to leave on Monday.

“The world has seen the value of the Black Sea Initiative…it’s not something you dismiss,” Griffiths said.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered the deal with Russia and Ukraine in July 2022 to help tackle a global food crisis worsened by Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor and blockade of Ukrainian seaports Black.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the agreements as playing an “indispensable role” in global food security.

(Reporting by Robert Muller and Jason Hovet in Prague; Pavel Polityuk and Olena Harmash in Kiev, Mike Stone, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Diane Craft)

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