President Joe Biden defended what he called a “very difficult decision” to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of that country, weapons the Holy See opposes.
In an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” that aired on 9th July, Biden said Ukraine needs the weapons to fend off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and that he discussed his decision both with allies and with congressional lawmakers.
Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched explosives that contain smaller submunitions, which increase the blast radius and the potential casualties and damage to physical structures. Despite Ukraine’s just cause to defend itself, one Catholic expert said, the church opposes cluster munitions themselves.
Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor at Notre Dame Law School who specialises in international law and conflict resolution, told OSV News that “the Catholic Church is in full support of the total ban on cluster munitions” due to its effects on civilians, including long after the conflict.
“Cluster munitions cannot discriminate between civilians and fighters,” O’Connell said. “Unexploded bomblets may kill civilians weeks, months, or years after a battle.”
She suggested the U.S. and its allies should dig deeper into their own stockpiles of artillery shells, because an “unlawful weapon is never permissible to use because of military necessity.”
Picture: Two men walk in front of a restaurant in Slovyansk, Ukraine, 23rd April 2022, that was attacked with a cluster bomb amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (OSV News photo/Jorge Silva, Reuters)