Banned by over 100 nations, most of these weapons leave behind unexploded elements that pose a threat to civilians
Washington is not "actively considering" sending cluster munitions to Kiev, Politico reported on Friday, citing a source familiar with the matter. According to Russian law enforcement officials, Ukrainian troops have already used this type of weapon, killing four civilians in the city of Kherson in October.
Ukraine has been requesting since at least late September the Cold War-era munitions stockpiled by the US, reports by Foreign Policy magazine have suggested. Like most other types of cluster munitions, the US-made ones can leave behind unexploded submunitions, which civilians can accidentally stumble upon.
These weapons were banned under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which was signed by most EU members but not the US, Ukraine, or Russia.
"According to our own policy, we have concerns about the use of those kinds of munitions," the US National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, told journalists on Friday, without specifically mentioning Kiev's request.
A US official also told Politico on condition of anonymity that Ukraine's request for cluster munitions is just one of many, which Washington is not "actively considering" at the moment. That does not mean the US cannot consider this option in the future, the official said.
The US Congress previously imposed an export ban on such munitions. However, according to Politico, President Joe Biden or even Secretary of State Antony Blinken could possibly override this ban. US officials still believe such a step is not necessary right now, according to an earlier report by CNN.
Since the start of the conflict, the US has committed more than $19 billion in security assistance to Kiev. Russia, meanwhile, has repeatedly warned the West against pumping weapons into Ukraine, arguing that this will only prolong the conflict and "bring more suffering" to the country.
Russian officials have reported that Ukrainian forces had already made use of Soviet-made cluster munitions. In late October, Kiev's troops launched an attack on the Dnieper River crossing in Kherson that killed four civilians, including a journalist, according to Aleksandr Malkevich, a senior official with Russia's Civic Chamber. The Russian Investigative Committee concluded that a cluster munition for the US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launcher was used in the attack.