The United States bypassed its law to give cluster munitions to Ukraine, but Kyiv was warned about the threats of their use, while the EU devoted additional money to boost the production of ammunition for Ukraine. Meanwhile, NATO promises Kyiv to make a political statement on accession, Zelenskyy has explained to his Bulgarian counterpart the wrongness of his "neutral" stance on the war in Ukraine, and the UN sounds alarm over the abnormal heat.
Kyiv will receive cluster munitions: How it became possible
President Joe Biden has approved the provision of U.S. cluster munitions for Ukraine, with drawdown of the weapons from Defense Department stocks due to be announced Friday, July 7, The Washington Post reports.
The move will bypass U.S. law prohibiting the production, use or transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1%.
Cluster weapons explode in the air over a target, releasing dozens to hundreds of smaller submunitions across a wide area.
More than 120 countries have joined a convention banning their use as inhumane and indiscriminate, in large part because of high failure rates. Unexploded submunitions, or duds, often remain on the ground for decades after the end of hostilities, endangering both friendly troops and civilians.
Both Ukraine and Russia, as well as the U.S. and seven other NATO members have not ratified the convention.
Although the United States has used cluster munitions in every major war since Korea, no new ones are believed to have been produced for years. But as many as 4.7 million cluster shells, rockets, missiles and bombs, containing more than 500 million submunitions, or bomblets, remain in military inventories, according to estimates by Human Rights Watch.
What do opponents of cluster munitions alert Ukraine of?
The Pentagon now says it has new assessments, based on testing as recent as 2020, with failure rates no higher than 2.35%. However, opponents of cluster munitions argue that the claimed dud rates are the result of testing in idealized and unrealistic conditions that don’t account for real-world scenarios.
"It’s dismaying to see the long-established 1 percent unexploded ordnance standard for cluster munitions rolled back as this will result in more duds, which means an even greater threat to civilians, including de-miners," said Mary Wareham, advocacy director of the arms division of Human Rights Watch.
Russia has extensively used cluster munitions during its invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine has denied using cluster munitions; however, a new HRW report released Thursday said Ukrainian use "caused numerous deaths and serious injuries to civilians" in attacks in the city of Izyum and other locations in 2022.
In an interview this week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said obtaining a significant supply of the weapons has become crucial to Kyiv’s ongoing counteroffensive.
The United States and other Western donors have sent millions of non-cluster howitzer shells to Ukraine, but stockpiles are running low and manufacturing cannot keep up with demand.
According to Reznikov, Russia uses three or four times more artillery shells than the Ukrainians do, and cluster munitions will allow Ukraine to make up for this difference. The minister also asserted that the Ukrainian forces would not use cluster munitions in places where they can harm civilians.
The U.S. military has long considered cluster munitions a useful battlefield weapon. Meanwhile, army artillery doctrine warns that submunition duds can pose significant risks to friendly personnel and equipment.
"There’s definitely a lot of tactical risks in employing these types of munitions. It limits your ability to maneuver, and limits your ability to maneuver quickly, because you have to be clearing a bunch of unexploded ordnance. It’s gonna slow you down, it’s gonna limit the ways in which you can exploit success," said a former U.S. Army artillery officer.
The EU allocated additional money to produce ammunition for Ukraine
According to Reuters, The EU announced on Friday, July 7, that it will devote €500 million to boost the production of ammunition for Ukraine and to replenish the stocks of EU member countries.
The European Council and European Parliament representatives struck a provisional agreement overnight and it is expected to enter into force before the end of this month. Under the deal, subsidies will be given to European arms firms to increase their production capacities.
The scheme is the third part of a broader EU effort to get more ammunition and arms to Ukraine, particularly 155-millimeter artillery shells, which Kyiv is pleading for.
NATO promised Ukraine a political statement on accession
NATO member states are consulting on the wording about Ukraine’s future accession and, in addition to concrete practical support, will make a political statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says, as cited by The Guardian.
"We agree that NATO’s door is open. We agree that Ukraine will become a member, which is an important message," said the Secretary General, adding that the timing of accession is to be agreed upon by Ukraine and the member states, and that Russia won’t have a veto.
He reiterated that if Ukraine did not win the war, there would be no Ukraine membership question anyway.
"Our summit will send a clear message: NATO stands united and Russia’s aggression will not pay," he also noted.
According to him, the allies are working to increase their production capacity to keep providing Ukraine with defense assistance.
The inaugural meeting of a new NATO-Ukraine council, made up of the 31 NATO allies, and Ukraine, will take place next week in Vilnius. It would allow any member, including Ukraine, to call a crisis consultation meeting and make decisions to address any threats.
"That brings, again, Ukraine closer to NATO," Stoltenberg emphasized.
Zelenskyy chastised the Bulgarian president
According to Politico, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy savaged his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev in a bruising televised exchange in Sofia on Thursday.
Zelenskyy was visiting Bulgaria largely to meet the pro-NATO and pro-EU administration of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, which has supported arms exports to Ukraine. The meeting with Radev, who is more sympathetic to Russia and equivocal on NATO, went even worse than expected.
As the Bulgarian president said that there was "no military solution," Zelenskyy responded:
"God forbid some tragedy should befall you and you should be in my place," he said. "And if people with shared values do not help, what will you do? You would say: Putin, please grab Bulgarian territory?"
Zelenskyy also lambasted Radev for describing Moscow’s invasion as a "conflict" rather than a war, and for vague assertions that the war is "expanding its spatial size."
Zelenskyy lambasted Radev for describing Moscow’s invasion as a "conflict" rather than a war, and for vague assertions that the war is spilling over and "expanding its spatial size."
Roundly brushing aside Radev’s suggestion of a diplomatic fix, Zelenskyy stressed the Kremlin had launched a "war of annihilation against Ukrainians, not other countries" and said Sofia’s government — at odds with Radev — was right to supply arms.
"You cannot support Russia and support a balancing position because Russia wants to destroy NATO, wants to destroy Europe and the European Union; these are their goals. Do you get me?" said Zelenskyy.
Radev finally asked the TV cameras to depart before continuing.
The UN sounds alarm over global warming
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said that "climate change is out of control", as an unofficial analysis of data showed that average world temperatures in the seven days to Wednesday, July 5, were the hottest week on record, The Guardian reports.
"If we persist in delaying key measures that are needed, I think we are moving into a catastrophic situation, as the last two records in temperature demonstrates," António Guterres said, referring to the world temperature records broken on Monday and Tuesday.
According to data collated by the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), the average global air temperature was 17.01C and 17.18C on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
For the seven-day period ending Wednesday, the daily average temperature was .04C (.08F) higher than any week in 44 years of record-keeping, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer data.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose figures are considered the gold standard in climate data, said on Thursday it could not validate the unofficial numbers.
Nevertheless, scientists agree they indicate climate change is reaching uncharted territory and that the increased heat from anthropogenic global heating combined with the return of El Niño would lead to more record-breaking temperatures.
"Chances are that the month of July will be the warmest ever, and with it the hottest month ever … ‘ever’ meaning since the Eemian [interglacial period], which is indeed some 120,000 years ago," Dr Karsten Haustein, a research fellow in atmospheric radiation at Leipzig University, said.
Chari Vijayaraghavan, a polar explorer and educator who has visited the Arctic and Antarctic regularly for the past 10 years, said global warming is obvious at both poles and threatens the region’s wildlife as well as driving ice melt that raises sea levels.