US President Joe Biden has arrived in the UK ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania this weekend
Controversy Surrounding Cluster Bomb Sale: UK and Canada Raise Concerns as US Supports Ukraine’s Dwindling Arms Stockpile
The sale of the explosives, which are universally outlawed due to the threat they represent to people, has drawn the attention of countries including the UK and Canada.
The US says they are needed because Ukraine’s arms stockpile is dwindling.
Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of Britain, will meet with Mr. Joe Biden on Monday.
The two men are expected to discuss a variety of issues, including the war in Ukraine.
Since the unveiling of the cluster bombs on Friday, Mr. Sunak has refrained from criticizing his US counterpart directly. However, on Saturday, he noted that the UK was one of the 123 nations that had ratified the Cluster Munitions Convention, an international agreement that forbids the development or deployment of weapons.
Other US allies, though, have come forward. New Zealand, a member of NATO, warned on Sunday that the weapons might “do significant harm to the innocent.”
Cluster bombs often disperse numerous tiny explosives that may kill anyone anywhere. Bombs that have not yet detonated can lay on the ground for many years.
According to the US, Kiev has provided written guarantees that Ukrainian forces won’t use weapons in Russia or populated regions.
King Charles Set to Meet President Joe Biden in Britain, NATO Summit Focuses on Defense Plans and Ammunition Stock
King Charles will be introduced to Mr. Joe Biden for the first time since his coronation while he is in Britain.
Members of the 31 Western military alliance – NATO – will then meet in Vilnius on Tuesday and Wednesday. Boosting ammunition stock and reviewing defense plans will be on the agenda.
Sweden’s plan has been thwarted by Turkey, which accuses it of harboring terrorists, and Finland will attend its first meeting since joining in April. To assist in negotiating an agreement with Turkey, Mr. Joe Biden is anticipated to ask Mr. Sunak for his support.
Ukraine maintains its ambition to join NATO. But speaking to CNN ahead of his trip, Mr Biden said that could not happen until the war is over – in line with the coalition’s long-term policy.
Invoking NATO’s mutual defense commitment, Mr. Joe Biden made the point that members agree to protect “every inch” of one another’s land, which means that “if there’s a war, we’re all at war.”
Ukraine’s President Seeks Alliance Membership as NATO Summit Faces Controversy Over Cluster Bomb Decision
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, had earlier agreed to the post and asked for a “signal” that his nation would be allowed to join the alliance when the conflict was over. The gathering this week is anticipated to include him.
The US decision to fulfill Ukraine’s request for the cluster bombs came on Friday. Officials said it was part of a military aid package worth $800 million (£626 million).
Mr Biden told CNN it was a “very difficult decision”, but he ultimately took action because “the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition”.
But many NATO allies quickly dissociated themselves from the decision.
Canada and Spain – both member nations – added their own protests to New Zealand’s.
Spain’s defense minister, Margarita Robles, reacted by saying, “No to cluster bombs and yes to the proper defense of the nation of Ukraine, something that we recognize shouldn’t be done with cluster bombs.”
But Germany, another signatory to the treaty and a NATO member, said that although it would not supply such weapons to Ukraine, it understood the US position.
One of the concerns with their supplies is their failure – or malfunction – rate. Unexploded bombs can explode indiscriminately.
But the US has said its cluster bombs fail less often than the ones Russia is already using in the Ukraine war.
Russia has rejected Ukraine’s pledges that the weapons won’t be used in residential regions and that it will continue to keep track on their usage as being “not worth anything”.
It is, potentially, a strange visit at a crucial time for the US-led NATO alliance.
Although it’s possible that President Joe Biden didn’t want to offend anyone by skipping King Charles’s coronation in the month of May, his absence was observed.
Then work is also going on as to who should be the next Secretary General of NATO. The UK and the Baltic States support the British Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, who has played a key role in mobilizing Western support for Ukraine.
But without US support, it is a non-starter, and Mr. Joe Biden looks to be favoring Ursula von der Leyen, a former German defense minister and chairman of the European Commission.
Additionally, there is debate regarding cluster bombs. The UK is one of 123 nations that have banned these weapons because they may hurt people without discrimination.
But despite international criticism, the US is moving forward with supplying these to Ukraine, as its forces struggle to breach Russian defenses in Ukraine’s south.
The short duration of Mr. Joe Biden’s visit means that any cracks in the transatlantic alliance are likely to be patched up with friendly handshakes and plenty of etiquette.