Biden defends decision to send Ukraine controversial weapons
President Joe Biden on Friday defended what he said was a "difficult decision" to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine, a move the administration said was key to the fight and buttressed by Ukraine's promise to use the controversial bombs carefully.
The decision comes on the eve of the NATO summit in Lithuania, where Biden is likely to face questions from allies on why the U.S. would send a weapon into Ukraine that more than two-thirds of alliance members have banned because it has a track record for causing many civilian casualties.
"It took me a while to be convinced to do it," said Biden in a CNN interview. He added that he ultimately took the Defense Department's recommendation to provide the munitions and discussed the matter with allies and with lawmakers on the Hill. He said "the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition" and the cluster bombs will provide a temporary fix to help stop Russian tanks.
The move was met with divided reactions from Congress, as some Democrats criticized the plan while some Republicans backed it. It was hailed on Twitter by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who thanked Biden for "a timely, broad and much-needed defense aid package" that will "bring Ukraine closer to victory over the enemy, and democracy to victory over dictatorship."
The munitions — which are bombs that open in the air and release scores of smaller bomblets — are seen by the U.S. as a way to get Kyiv critically needed ammunition to help bolster its offensive and push through Russian front lines. U.S. leaders debated the thorny issue for months, before Biden made the final decision this week.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. will send a version of the munition that has a reduced "dud rate," meaning...