Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Criticizes Biden Administration’s Decision to Transfer Cluster Munitions to Ukraine

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. strongly condemned the Biden administration on Friday following the announcement that the Department of Defense intends to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine.

The Biden administration’s plans include sending M864 155-millimeter artillery shells, specifically Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM), which are designed to disperse smaller explosive weapons over a wide area to target personnel and vehicles. This decision marks a reversal of a previous determination to withhold such weapons. Cluster munitions have long been a subject of controversy due to the potential risks associated with unexploded submunitions, often referred to as “duds,” which can pose a threat to civilians even after a conflict has ended. The manufacturing of cluster munitions ceased in the 1990s.

Kennedy’s criticism of the Biden administration’s move adds to the ongoing debate surrounding the use and transfer of cluster munitions. Concerns over the humanitarian impact of these weapons have prompted international efforts to limit or ban their use. The decision to supply cluster munitions to Ukraine raises questions about the potential consequences for civilian populations in the region.

“Cluster bombs are munitions so horrific for civilians that more than a hundred nations have signed an international treaty banning them,” Kennedy, who is challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in the 2024 election, posted on Twitter. “Now the Biden administration is preparing to send them to Ukraine.”

“These munitions scatter bomblets across the landscape,” Kennedy said in a follow-on post. “Many fail to explode — until children pick them up later. They have caused thousands of injuries and deaths to civilians.”

Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, 2022, launching a massive attack across the latter country. The United States has sent over $100 billion in aid to Ukraine, and announced in January they would send 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks following a December announcement that a battery of MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missiles would be provided to that country.

“Fortunately for Biden, there’s no anti-war left in the US Congress to bother him about this,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted. “There are a few left-ish commentators, otherwise loyal to Democrats, who are making some noise about it, but by and large this will go forward without protest.”

As discussions continue regarding the provision of military support to Ukraine, the controversy surrounding cluster munitions further complicates an already contentious issue. The transfer of such weapons brings to the forefront the need to carefully consider their potential humanitarian impact and the long-term consequences they may pose, even after a conflict concludes.

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