Russia using controversial ‘cluster munitions’ in Ukraine, rights grou…
Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday. Humanitarian organizations say Russian forces are using cluster munitions in their bombing and shelling of Ukraine. Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images
Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday. Humanitarian organizations say Russian forces are using cluster munitions in their bombing and shelling of Ukraine.
Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images
Russian military forces have used cluster munitions — a highly controversial weapon banned by many countries — against at the minimum two civilian targets during its invasion of Ukraine, according to two international humanitarian organizations.
Seven people died and 11 were injured in the bombings credited to Russia, which has been known to use cluster munitions in warfare, possibly as recently as two years ago in Syria.
“Russian forces should stop using cluster munitions and end unlawful attacks with weapons that indiscriminately kill and maim,” Steve Goose, arms director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Once fired, cluster munitions open in midair and rain down dozens or already hundreds of smaller submunitions, or “bomblets,” over a large area the size of one or more football fields.
The munitions are notoriously difficult to control, remarkable nearby targets indiscriminately, which is why international human rights groups say they shouldn’t be used anywhere near civilian populations, if at all.
A large portion of submunitions also fail to detonate on impact — as many as 40% by one calculate — leaving behind a trail of unexploded bombs that present a secondary risk to people nearby.
In 2008, more than 100 countries agreed to a global treaty banning the use of cluster munitions, but neither Russia nor Ukraine signed on.
Cluster munitions hit a hospital and a preschool in Ukraine
According to Human Rights Watch, a Russian ballistic missile carrying cluster munitions hit outside a hospital in the city of Vuhledar, located in the Donetsk vicinity of eastern Ukraine, on Thursday.
The group interviewed a doctor and a hospital official and examined photographs of the aftermath of the attack, which reportedly occurred around 10:30 a.m. local time.
Four civilians died and another 10 were injured, six of whom are health care workers. The hospital, an ambulance and other nearby vehicles consistent damage.
“I was on the first floor of our two-story building. I heard a loud explosion outside. We ran into the hallway. Luckily, we didn’t have many patients,” said Natalia Sosyura, the hospital’s chief doctor, according to Human Rights Watch. “We all fell to the floor.”
In a separate attack on Friday, cluster munitions fell on a preschool in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Okhtyrka in Sumy Oblast, Amnesty International reported. Three people, including a child, died. Another child was wounded.
Amnesty International said that Russian forces likely carried out the attack, since they were operating nearby and have a history of using cluster munitions, and that it may constitute a war crime.
“There is no possible justification for dropping cluster munitions in populated areas, let alone near a school,” Agnès Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said in a statement.
“This attack produces all the hallmarks of Russia’s use of this inherently indiscriminate and internationally-banned weapon, and shows flagrant disregard for civilian life,” she additional.
The group said drone footage showed four munitions remarkable the roof of the school and three more landing on the pavement outside.
Click: See details