U.S. senators are divided over President Joe Biden’s controversial decision to arm Ukraine with cluster munitions. Some members of both parties are condemning the move, while others are supporting it.
On July 7, Mr. Biden announced his “very difficult decision” to provide Ukrainians with cluster munitions, also known as cluster bombs, despite the weapon being banned by over 100 countries. The United States, Ukraine, and Russia are not signatories to the international treaty prohibiting the use of these weapons.
Cluster munitions release multiple bomblets, which can pose risks to civilians long after a conflict ends due to the presence of unexploded bomblets. Removing these bomblets can be costly and challenging.
In an interview with CNN, Mr. Biden defended his decision, stating, “They either have the weapons to stop the Russians now from their—keep them from stopping the Ukrainian offensive through these areas—or they don’t. And I think they needed them.”
The decision has sparked unease among some U.S. allies, including the UK and Canada, who are concerned about the potential harm to civilians.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have also criticized the move.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expressed his concerns about civilian casualties and the disregard for international opinion on cluster bombs.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) voiced his opposition, stating, “I don’t think it’s a weapon that should be used today. I have serious concerns with the president’s decision.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) also opposed the decision, emphasizing the need to focus on countering China rather than committing more resources to Europe.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) expressed his opposition to the war in general, highlighting the immediate loss of life.
He added, “I’m just concerned that it appears Joe Biden keeps crossing the lines he drew. He told us we wouldn’t have troops there, but now we do. He told us we wouldn’t help them get jets, but now we’re training them to use jets. And now the cluster bombs as well.”
Others, however, praised the decision.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Ala.) described it as “long overdue.”
Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) called it “a great idea.”
Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) expressed their trust in Biden’s judgment on the issue.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) stated, “I absolutely support that. It’s critical that we defend and support Ukraine.”
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) emphasized the importance of Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) applauded Biden for balancing competing interests in a difficult decision.
Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had a more nuanced view, acknowledging the concerns about cluster bombs but suggesting that the move was necessary to maintain a balance in the conflict.
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