US-Backed Ukraine Army Used Cluster Bombs Against Its Own People: Reports
The Ukraine Army, backed by both the U.S. and NATO throughout its military campaign against rebel factions in eastern regions of the country over recent months, appears to have fired cluster munitions on the city of Donetsk earlier this month, according to a Human Rights Watch investigation and independent reporting by the New York Times.
Citing the HRW report, physical evidence and its own interviews with both witnesses and victims, the Times reports:
“It is shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Ukrainian authorities should make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and join the treaty to ban them.”
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Human Rights Watch said it was “not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks,” but that the available evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk. The New York Times said it could not verify any claims that rebel forces had fired any such weapons.
Though more than a hundred nations have signed onto the global treaty to ban use of cluster munitions, neither Ukraine nor its most powerful ally in the conflict, the United States, have signed the agreement. Ukraine Army’s use of the weapons, the Times notes, adds credibility to Russia’s long-held version of the conflict inside Ukraine, “which is that the [government in Kiev] is engaged in a punitive war against its own citizens.”
According to the Human Rights Watch report, the evidence is particularly strong that Ukrainian government forces were responsible for the several confirmed cluster munition attacks on central Donetsk in early October:
“Firing cluster munitions into populated areas is utterly irresponsible and those who ordered such attacks should be held to account,” Hiznay said. “The best way for the Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate a commitment to protect civilians would be an immediate promise to stop using cluster munitions.”
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