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Moscow, July 17 Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country has a “sufficient” stockpile of cluster munitions and will consider using them against Ukraine “if they are used against us”.
“Russia has a sufficient supply of various types of cluster munitions,” CNN quoted the President as saying during an interview with local Russian media.
“If they are used against us, we reserve the right to mirror actions.”
Putin’s remarks came just days after Ukraine received a delivery of American-made cluster munitions from the US.
The weapons are particularly dangerous to civilians and non-combattants when fired near populated areas because they scatter explosive material, so-called “bomblets,” across large areas.
Those that fail to explode on impact can detonate years later, posing a long-term risk to anyone who encounters them, similar to landmines, CNN reported.
The danger posed by cluster weapons has prompted more than 100 countries — including the UK, France and Germany — to sign a treaty prohibiting their use.
In the interview, Putin said that the US administration had called the use of cluster munitions a war crime and that he agreed with that assessment.
But he did not say who in the administration had made the remarks, or when.
The President also claimed that Russia has not yet used cluster munitions, despite a UN report in March said thatit had compiled credible reports that Russian forces had used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times.
Speaking to CNN earlier this month, US President Joe Biden had said that the decision whether to send cluster munitions to Ukraine was “very difficult”.
But he opted to do so because Kiev needs more ammunition to continue its fight to push Russian troops out of Ukrainian territory.
A top official at the US Defense Department said Ukraine gave “assurances in writing” that it would not use the cluster munitions in urban areas.