Ukraine fired rockets equipped with cluster bomb warheads to attack Belgorod, officials have claimed
Kiev employed rockets carrying cluster bomb warheads in its strike against the Russian border city of Belgorod, the Russian Defense Ministry stated on Saturday, labeling the attack a ”crime.” This weapon type has been banned by more than 110 nations under a UN convention dating back to 2008, due to the extreme danger it poses to civilians. Its use in densely populated areas can lead to devastating consequences.
The “Kiev regime” used several multiple rocket launchers to hit the city earlier on Saturday, the ministry said in a statement on Telegram. One was a Ukrainian Olkha system, which is capable of firing 12 guided rockets in one volley, hitting targets at a maximum range of 70 to 130 kilometers, depending on the type of system. The Olkha rockets were equipped with cluster bomb warheads, the ministry claimed.
A Czech-made RM-70 Vampire – an upgraded heavier version of the Soviet BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher – was also used, according to the Russian military.
Russian air defenses intercepted most of the incoming projectiles, but several hit the city, the ministry said. It added that “in case of a direct hit by Olkha missiles equipped with cluster munitions… the consequences would be immeasurably more severe.”
Earlier, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said that the strike claimed the lives of 14 people, including two children, and left 108 people, among them 15 children, injured.
The Russian military accused Kiev of seeking to draw public attention away from its failures on the front line, as well as provoking Moscow into retaliatory strikes of a similar nature. The ministry maintained that Russia only strikes military targets and infrastructure that is directly relevant to these military facilities.
“This crime will not go unpunished,” the military said.
Cluster munitions are highly controversial due to their design. They comprise dozens of small submunitions that can be scattered over a large area by an initial detonation, which can then also explode, causing a large number of smaller secondary blasts. Some, however, typically fail to detonate and remain a hazard for years or even decades.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in July that the use of cluster bombs should be regarded as a war crime. At the time, Washington had announced that it would supply Kiev with cluster bombs out of its Cold War-era stockpiles, justifying its decision by claiming that Ukraine had pledged not to use them in populated areas.
The US government also claimed that both Russia and Ukraine had been using their own cluster munitions throughout the conflict. Nevertheless, the move sparked widespread criticism even among America’s allies, including Canada, Germany, and the UK.
Putin said at the time that Moscow reserved the right to use its own cluster munitions in response. He added that Russia had previously refrained from using the weapons even when there was a shortage of other types of munitions.
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