Russian President Vladimir Putin walks through an exhibition of promising Russian companies during the “Strong Ideas for the New Time” forum in Moscow, Russia, June 29, 2023.
Sergei Savostyanov | Sputnik | via Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published on Sunday that Russia has a “sufficient stock” of cluster munitions and warned that Russia “reserves the right to reciprocate” if Ukraine uses the controversial weapons.
In his first comments on the shipment of cluster bombs to Ukraine from the United States, Putin said Russia has so far not used cluster bombs in its war in Ukraine.
“Until now, we have not done this, we have not used it and we have not had such a need,” he said, although the use of cluster bombs by Russia and Ukraine has been widely documented, including by The Associated Press. and international humanitarian organizations, and cluster rounds have been found after Russian attacks.
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Rossiya TV reporter Pavel Zarubin posted excerpts from the interview on his Telegram channel on Sunday ahead of a scheduled broadcast on Sunday night.
The Pentagon said on Thursday that US-supplied cluster munitions had reached Ukraine.
The munitions, which are bombs that burst in mid-air and release dozens of smaller mini-bombs, are seen by the US as a way to obtain critically needed munitions for Kiev to help bolster its offensive and advance through the Russian front lines. American leaders debated the thorny issue for months before President Joe Biden made the final decision last week.
Cluster bombs have long been criticized by humanitarian groups and some US allies because those used in previous conflicts have had a high “failure rate,” meaning they often leave behind unexploded bombs that they can harm civilians long after the battle is over.
Proponents argue that Russia has already been using cluster munitions in Ukraine and that US-provided weapons have been upgraded to leave far fewer unexploded rounds. Ukraine has promised to use them only far from densely populated areas.
On the ground, the Ukrainian military said in a regular update on Sunday morning that over the previous 24 hours Russia had launched two Iranian-made Shahed explosive drones, two cruise missiles and two anti-aircraft guided missiles, in addition to 40 airstrikes and 46 attacks. of various rocket launchers.
The Ukrainian General Staff wrote that Russia continues to focus on offensive operations in the industrial east of Ukraine. Donetsk Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Sunday that two residents of the region were killed on Saturday and another person was injured.
Elsewhere in the country, two boys, ages 8 and 10, were injured when an explosive device left behind by Russian forces detonated in the southern Kherson region on Sunday, according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office.
Regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said Russia had launched 69 artillery strikes against the Kherson region. A 59-year-old man was killed on Saturday when he was trying to disarm a shell in the regional capital, also called Kherson.
Yurii Malashko, governor of the neighboring, partially occupied Zaporizhzhia region, said Russia had attacked 13 populated areas in the region, wounding seven people in the city of Stepnohirsk.
Moscow-based authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea on Sunday reported a “massive and protracted” drone attack overnight on Sevastopol, the peninsula’s largest port, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. According to the Moscow-based governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, the air defense shot down all the drones and there was no damage.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, said a woman was killed in shelling in the town of Shebekino near the Ukrainian border on Sunday.