The war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for more than 17 months. Looking at the attitude of both countries, it was not felt that this war was going to end. Meanwhile, the White House said Thursday that the United States is considering whether to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine.
There is a worldwide dispute regarding this war material. This is the reason why human rights groups in both countries have called for an end to the use of such weapons.
What is a cluster bomb?
A cluster bomb is a collection of hundreds of smaller bombs. When these bombs are fired, they explode in the middle of the way and damage a large area. It also deals heavy damage around the target. It is mostly used to damage the infantry unit or the army of the enemy country. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), they can be fired by aircraft, artillery and missiles. Cluster bombs can be fired from both air and ground.
Bombs are designed to detonate upon hitting the ground and there is a high likelihood of killing or seriously injuring anyone in the area. Many bombs fail to explode immediately. But these bombs pose a danger to people long after their use. The ammunition from cluster bombs can kill or maim people years or even decades after it was fired.
In 2008, an international treaty called the Convention on Cluster Munitions came into existence in Dublin. The treaty prohibited the possession, sale or use of cluster bombs. The countries involved in this treaty cannot be forced to accept it.
However, many countries of the world opposed this treaty and did not become members. Which included India, Russia, America, China, Pakistan and Israel. As of September 2018, 108 countries of the world have signed this treaty. According to the Cluster Munition Coalition, 99% of global stockpiles have been destroyed since the adoption of the convention in 2008.
Even though the production and use of cluster bombs are banned, many countries including America, Iraq, North Korea, and Israel have been accused of using them. Human rights groups say that the use of cluster bombs in populated areas violates international humanitarian law because they cause indiscriminate destruction. According to one report, sixty per cent of cluster bomb casualties are injured during everyday activities, of which a third are children.
Cluster bombs were first used by the forces of the then-Soviet Union and Germany in the year 1943 during World War II. At least 15 countries have used them in the years following World War II. These include Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Israel, Morocco, the Netherlands, Britain, Russia and the United States. According to a report, 200 types of cluster bombs have been made so far.
America used this bomb extensively during the Gulf War. During the Afghanistan war, the US fired a lot of cluster bombs from its fighter jets to kill the Taliban fighters hiding in the hills. Due to this, a large number of terrorists were killed.
Cluster bombs have caused havoc in many other countries including Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, Cambodia, and Syria. Palestine has also accused Israel many times regarding the use of these bombs. Protesters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip make this allegation repeatedly. Although Israel has always denied these allegations.
A Guardian report claimed that Russian troops have used cluster munitions in populated areas of Ukraine, resulting in civilian deaths. According to Human Rights Watch, Ukraine has also used them in its efforts to regain territory occupied by Russia.
Ukraine is pushing for cluster bombs. It argues that these weapons will help its troops to target Russian targets and retaliate. So far, the US has turned down Ukraine’s request, citing concerns about the use of the weapons and saying they are not necessary.
However, US officials recently indicated a change in their stance. A senior Pentagon official said last month that the US military believed cluster weapons would be useful, especially against Russian targets.
Meanwhile, rights groups have called on Russia and Ukraine to stop using cluster bombs. ‘The cluster weapons used by Russia and Ukraine are killing civilians now and will continue to do so for many years,’ said Mary Wareham, acting weapons director at Human Rights Watch. Wareham further stated that both sides should immediately cease their use and should not attempt to acquire more of these indiscriminate weapons.