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HRW: Kiev Used Cluster Munitions in E. Ukraine
International

HRW: Kiev Used Cluster Munitions in E. Ukraine

The forces of the Kiev government used cluster munitions in populated areas in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, says Human Rights Watch. It adds that the use of this forbidden weaponry violates the laws of war.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) was documenting the “widespread use of cluster munitions” in fighting between government troops and self-defense forces, according to investigation carried by the watchdog, RT reported.
“While it was not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks, the evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk [Donetsk Region, Eastern Ukraine],” says the report.
Donetsk, which before the launch of the Kiev military operation in April had a population of about 1 million people, is now literally in ruins. Heavy shelling claimed hundreds of civilians in the city.
“It is shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned was used so extensively in eastern Ukraine,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at HRW. “Ukrainian authorities should make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and join the treaty to ban them.”
The danger of cluster munitions is that each of them contains hundreds of smaller submunitions. After the bomb explodes the container opens up “dispersing the submunitions, which are designed to explode when they hit the ground,” says the investigation.
“The submunitions are spread indiscriminately over a wide area, often the size of a football field, putting anyone in the area at the time of attack, whether combatants or civilians, at risk of death or injury.”
The Convention on Cluster Munitions signed in 2009 includes 114 countries so far. However Ukraine has yet to join the treaty.
“There is particularly strong evidence that Ukrainian government forces were responsible for several cluster munition attacks on central Donetsk in early October,” HRW said.
The watchdog identified cluster munitions by the distinctive craters, remnants of the submunitions found at the impact sites, and remnants of the rockets found in the vicinity.
“Ukrainian forces should immediately make a commitment to not use cluster munitions and to investigate and hold accountable any personnel responsible for firing cluster munitions into populated areas. Ukraine should accede to the treaty banning their use,” HRW said.
Ukraine’s authorities neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, says the group, adding that Kiev didn’t respond to a letter sent by the Cluster Munition Coalition in July or a letter sent by HRW on October 13.
“Firing cluster munitions into populated areas is utterly irresponsible and those who ordered such attacks should be held to account,” Hiznay said. “The best way for the Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate a commitment to protect civilians would be an immediate promise to stop using cluster munitions.”

 

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