Russia Accuses Ukraine of Using Biden-Supplied Cluster Bombs on Civilian Targets in Donetsk

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: U.S. President Joe Biden (R) welcomes President of Ukraine V
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Russian officials have claimed that Ukraine has shelled civilian areas of the contested Donetsk region with cluster bombs supplied to the country by the Biden administration.

According to Russian-installed Donetsk Mayor Alexei Kulemzin, Ukrainian forces used deeply controversial cluster bombs in an assault on Friday evening that saw university buildings set ablaze.

“As a result of another shelling of Donetsk, the first building of the University of Economics and Trade is on fire,” Kulemzin said on his Telegram channel. “According to preliminary information, the Ukronazis used cluster munitions.”

The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) — the breakaway region of Eastern Ukraine that has since been annexed by Russia — claimed per Russian state media RT that four rounds of 155mm cluster bombs were fired into the city centre on Saturday evening, sparking fires in three separate districts. The cluster munitions reportedly exploded in the air.

At the time of this reporting, Ukraine has not confirmed nor denied involvement in the attack on Donetsk. Ukraine has claimed that during the same evening, Russian hit a blood transfusion centre in the Kharkiv region. President Zelensky described the attack as a “war crime” that “says everything about Russian aggression”.

Ukraine, which was provided with stocks of cluster munitions from the Joe Biden administration last month, has stated that it only intended to use the weapons against heavily entrenched Russian military positions along the front.

The decision by Washington to supply Kyiv with cluster bombs came with some controversy, given that they are currently banned in over 100 countries over the disproportionate danger posed to civilian populations.

The bombs work by scattering into smaller bomblets in the sky before raining down onto the ground. Cluster munitions are reported to have a high “dud rate” meaning that some of the smaller bombs do not explode upon impact with the ground, and can go off at a later date, often injuring unsuspecting civilians.

The alleged use of cluster bombs on Donetsk comes as a Ukrainian delegation travelled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as the Gulf state hosted what is being referred to as peace talks. So far, there has been little information to come out of the talks, yet expectations are that they will not result in a peace settlement or a ceasefire from the fighting.

The reason why peace is so unlikely to emerge from the talks is that Russia was not invited at all to the table. Former Russian president Dimitry Medvedev criticised the talks for failing to have the “participation of both sides of the conflict” represented.

“However, the negotiations themselves are not yet needed. The enemy must crawl on his knees, begging for mercy,” Medvedev added.

For his part, President Zelensky said of the talks: “In total, 42 countries are represented there. Different continents, different political approaches to global affairs, but everyone is united by the priority of international law. And it is for this that Ukraine proposed the Peace Formula because the international rules-based order, violated by Russian aggression, must be restored.”

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