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US made cluster munitions aid Ukraine's counteroffensive efforts - WSJ

US made cluster munitions aid Ukraine's counteroffensive efforts - WSJ Cluster munitions aid Ukraine's counteroffensive efforts (Photo: Getty Images)

According to The Wall Street Journal, recently delivered cluster munitions of American origin have provided a fresh impetus to Ukraine's counteroffensive led by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, aiming to reclaim territory seized by Russia.

Ukrainian soldiers reveal their deployment of cluster munitions, which release numerous submunitions capable of causing damage across a larger area than conventional artillery shells. These munitions are used to target concentrations of Russian infantry, groups of vehicles, and other strategic objectives, clearing the path for offensive operations.

The WSJ report highlights that Kyiv's counteroffensive efforts were hindered by expansive minefields and Russia's overwhelming aviation presence, which impeded widespread attempts to utilize Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles to achieve breakthroughs against fortified Russian positions.

The introduction of cluster munitions has been coupled with a change in tactics, enabling Ukrainian forces to advance in certain areas within reach of Russia's main defensive lines.

"Cluster bombs are effective. They work," stated Captain Anatolii Kharchenko, the commander of a reconnaissance platoon. However, Kharchenko added that the Russian forces have entrenched themselves deeply and are adapting rapidly to the evolving tactics.

Effective weaponry

Recent battles around the village of Robotyne, southeast of Zaporizhzhia, showcased the effectiveness of Ukraine's new arsenal.

At the end of July, a platoon to the east of the village was pinned down under intense Russian fire. The unit radioed the commander with a request to withdraw. Instead, they were ordered to take cover. Cluster munitions soared overhead. One soldier likened the sound to rain before describing the ensuing chaos on Russian radio channels.

"They were shouting, 'We have many wounded. We need to evacuate. We're retreating,'" recounted a Ukrainian soldier. According to these accounts, the platoon then moved forward to capture Russian positions.

WSJ emphasizes that Ukraine has yet to breach the most formidable Russian defensive structures, including trenches, tank traps, and other fortifications. Military experts suggest that Ukraine will likely require assets like Leopard-2 tanks and other Western armored vehicles to break through these defenses.

To safeguard vehicles that faced difficulties on minefields in early June, Ukrainian forces adjusted their tactics. Now, infantry reinforced with reserves from other units are advancing on foot through minefields.

Soldiers' testimonies suggest that due to these strategic changes, Ukrainian forces now believe they have a chance for a breakthrough, as reported by WSJ.

Cluster munitions

In early July, the US provided cluster munitions to Ukraine. President Joe Biden stated that these projectiles would assist Ukrainian forces in continuing their counteroffensive efforts.

White House spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that Ukrainian forces were using the cluster munitions provided by the US against Russia in a "proper" and "effective" manner.

The US cited the decision to provide Ukraine with Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) due to a shortage of standard 155 mm artillery shells. According to Jake Sullivan, a US National Security Advisor, the supply of cluster munitions is "temporary."