German president ‘justifies’ position on cluster bombs

Washington’s plan to supply Kiev with cluster munitions have been widely condemned even among its allies

Berlin cannot and should not interfere with the Washington’s controversial decision to supply cluster munitions banned in most of Europe to Ukraine, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told ZDF in an interview on Sunday, even as he stood by his own leading role in signing Germany to the agreement that prohibited those weapons.

“It is right that such munitions are prohibited by the federal government in Germany and that Germany is against such supplies,” Steinmeier stated, explaining he had signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions while serving as foreign minister in 2008.

“But we cannot, in the current situation, block the United States,” the president acknowledged, even while insisting that “Germany’s position against the use of cluster munitions is as justified as ever.”

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German president ‘justifies’ position on cluster bombs
US allies slam plan to send cluster bombs to Ukraine

The move announced by the US last week has sparked concern even among America’s allies.

Canada, the UK, Austria, and Spain have all registered their objection to the US sending the weapons to Ukraine as well, citing the weapons’ known track record of harming the innocent even after the war is over.

German MP Ralf Stenger, a member of the ruling SPD party, had tweeted his opposition to the US supplying Ukraine with weapons that were “rightly outlawed internationally” on Friday. Those who “act in the name of international order and values do not supply such weapons, not even in Ukraine,” he wrote, in what appeared to be a dig at Washington.

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Andrey Melnik looks on prior to an official welcoming ceremony for Ukraine's Prime minister at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, September 4, 2022
‘Go to hell,’ Ukraine tells anti-cluster bomb German MP

Former Ukrainian deputy foreign minister Andrey Melnik, who caused controversy during his tenure as Kiev’s envoy to Germany, told Stenger and Ukraine’s other suddenly gun-shy western allies to “go to hell with your advice” in a tweeted response to the German MP, arguing Ukrainians’ suffering outweighed any other potential concerns or consequences. Melnik has repeatedly accused Germany of being insufficiently supportive of the Ukrainian military, whether by not sending enough weapons, not sending enough money, or sending weapons and money too slowly.

Banned in 120 countries under the UN’s 2008 treaty, cluster munitions spread numerous smaller “bomblets” over a target area, many of which fail to immediately explode and instead hide in wait for some unsuspecting civilian or animal years down the road to lose a limb or their life. The US, Ukraine and Russia are among the nations that have not prohibited their use.

READ MORE: ‘Russian victory’ worse than civilian cluster-bomb deaths – Pentagon

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan attempted to defend the deadly bomblets as a necessary “bridge” for a Ukrainian military he said was rapidly running out of conventional artillery shells, insisting that Kiev had promised to minimize risks to civilians. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl went as far as to claim that a victorious Russia would be worse for Ukrainian civilians than having their limbs blown off by stray bomblets. 

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