Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the President of Germany, has said that his country “cannot” oppose the United States’ decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine.
Confirmed as being part of the US’ latest package of weapons aid for the embattled nation, cluster bombs are a highly controversial type of weaponry banned by more than 100 nations worldwide as part of the international Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) treaty.
However, among those that have not signed up are the US, Russia and Ukraine.
Despite Germany being a signatory of the CCM treaty, Steinmeier insisted that his country should not try to “block” America from sending such arms to Ukraine.
“Germany’s position against the use of cluster munitions is as justified as ever,” he said. “But we cannot, in the current situation, block the United States.”
He added that his country would, however, continue to support the Ukraine war effort.
“There is no question which side we are on in this war,” Steinmeier insisted. “We must understand that Ukraine is trying to push back Russian troops.”
He also expressed hope that evidence of Russian war crimes would continue to be gathered as much as possible with the aim of holding Russian leader President Vladimir Putin to account.
The US decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine has largely been met with careful concern internationally.
Often involving a large explosive being used to indiscriminately release numerous smaller bombs across a wide area, human rights groups have said that the move will probably lead to more civilians being killed by unexploded ordinance.
US President Joe Biden has sought to justify his decision amid some international criticism, arguing that he took the “difficult decision” as both Kyiv and Washington are starting to run short of certain types of ammunition.
“This is a war relating to munitions,” Biden told CNN late last week. “They are running out of that ammunition and we are low on it.”
He said he took the recommendation of the US defence department to enter into a “transition period” arrangement, during which the US would begin to supply cluster bombs to Ukraine in order to make up the immediate shortfall in munitions.
Biden also insisted that such cluster bombs rarely fail and that the weapons will only be used in areas unoccupied by civilians.