White House says Ukraine uses US cluster munitions on the battlefield – News Block

KYIV: Ukrainian forces are using US-supplied cluster munitions on the battlefield, the White House said, as kyiv seeks momentum in its counteroffensive.
Washington first provided the weapons to Ukraine earlier this month as kyiv tries to dislodge entrenched Russian forces and retake land lost in the early months of last year’s invasion of Moscow.
The weapons, which disperse up to several hundred small explosive charges that can remain unexploded on the ground, are banned by many countries due to the long-term risks they pose to civilians.
Ukraine’s forces began using the munitions “within the last week or so,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.
“They are using them appropriately, they are using them effectively and they are actually having an impact on Russia’s defensive formations and Russia’s defensive maneuvers,” he said.
Moscow’s forces still hold swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine and more than a month after kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive, much of the front appears frozen.
Earlier this week, a top presidential adviser in kyiv told AFP the operation would be “long and difficult.”
Russia attacked the Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Odessa with drones and missiles in the third straight night of “hellish” attacks, Ukrainian officials said on Thursday.
At least three people were killed and more than 20 injured in the attacks, authorities said, posting images of buildings on fire and partially collapsed.
In Odessa, a man was found “under the rubble”, regional governor Oleg Kiper said, while in Mykolaiv an elderly couple died.
Oleksiy Luganchenko, 72, stood in front of a collapsed building in the city, saying the dead couple was his sister and her husband.
“Who needs this war?” Luganchenko said.
“I told them they should go and now they’re dead.”
On Thursday, kyiv said it would treat ships in the Black Sea heading to Russian-controlled ports as possible carriers of military cargo.
The announcement reflected a move by Russia after the Kremlin withdrew from a key grain export deal that facilitated the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
After Russia invaded last year, its warships blocked Ukraine’s ports until the two sides agreed to the grain export deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
That enabled the export of more than 32 million tons of Ukrainian grains over the past year, bringing relief to countries facing critical food shortages such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Yemen.
But Moscow said on Monday it was withdrawing from the deal, after months of complaining that provisions allowing the export of Russian food and fertilizer had not been complied with.
Since the deal collapsed, Ukraine has accused Russia of targeting grain supplies and vital infrastructure for grain shipments.
An attack in Odessa destroyed 60,000 tons of grain destined for export from the world’s top producer, Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry said.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the effect of the attacks went far beyond Ukraine.
“We are already seeing the negative effect on global wheat and corn prices that hurts everyone, but especially vulnerable people in the global south,” Guterres said in a statement from his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
Ukraine has already said it would be ready to continue grain exports from its southern ports despite Russian threats. It has called on the UN and neighboring countries to ensure the safe passage of the shipments through joint patrols.
In Crimea, a Ukrainian drone strike damaged four administrative buildings and killed a teenage girl, the Moscow-based governor said.
It came a day after an unexplained fire at a military site and an attack on the only bridge linking the annexed peninsula to mainland Russia earlier in the week.
Ukrainian forces carried out the assault on the Kerch bridge using maritime drones, a security source told AFP.
On the front, the fighting is concentrated in eastern Ukraine, where kyiv’s counteroffensive is slowly advancing against Russia’s defensive lines.
In the New York settlement, which is framed by smoke rising from nearby battlefields, Russian attacks have targeted its chemical factory.
“Maybe it’s because their assault on our town has stalled,” the plant’s director, Sergiy Dmytrenko, 34, told AFP.
“Maybe this is his new tactic.”

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