WASHINGTON—The United States is considering providing cluster munitions to Ukraine, the top American military officer said Friday.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. has been thinking about providing the munitions “for a long time.” He noted that Russian troops are using them on the battlefield in Ukraine and that Ukrainian forces have received cluster bombs from other allies and have deployed the arms.
Milley said at the National Press Club that discussions are continuing. “The Ukrainians have asked for it, other European countries have provided some of that, the Russians are using it,” Milley said. “There’s a decision making process ongoing.”
He also dismissed concerns that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is going too slowly. Milley said he thought the initial campaign would take six weeks to 10 weeks. “It’s going to be very difficult. It’s going to be very long,” Milley said. “No one should have any illusions about any of that.”
Cluster bombs are weapons that open in the air, releasing submunitions, or “bomblets,” that are dispersed over a large area and are intended to wreak destruction on multiple targets at once. The bombs can be delivered by planes, artillery, and missiles, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The “bomblets” have a high rate of failure to explode, up to 40 percent in some recent conflicts, according to the ICRC.
Proponents of banning cluster bombs say they kill indiscriminately and endanger civilians long after their use.
It is not clear how America’s NATO allies.