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Ukrainian ambassador to UK defends controversial cluster bombs as Russia is using 'everything short of nuclear'
10 July 2023, 19:21 | Updated: 10 July 2023, 19:33
Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, has tonight defended the potential use of controversial US-made 'cluster bombs', adding Russia are "using everything they have in their munitions short of nuclear".
"Russia is already bombing us with cluster munitions. It’s not something new that’s been invented, they’ve been doing it for all of this year, bringing risk to our civilians," he said.
"They’re using phosphorus bombs - just burning down everything. They’re using everything they have in their munitions short of nuclear - but we’re still there."
Controversial 'cluster bombs' are a weapon designed to scatter submunitions over a expansive area, meaning the bombs pose a risk to civilian life through the indiscriminate 'scattering' of explosives.
The munitions' failure rate has also caused controversy, with unexploded 'bomblets' laying dormant for years before detonating.
Ukrainian Ambassador to UK speaks to Marr about weapons and cluster bombs
Ambassador Prystaiko was quick to point out the risks, noting that Russian-made cluster bombs pose a significantly higher threat to civilians due to their basic engineering.
"Their cluster fails around 20 per cent [of the time]. The American is much more sophisticated - one per cent, two percent of smaller bombs that reach the ground will stay there.
Adding: "That will be [Ukraine's] problem".
His comments follow US President Joe Biden's announcement the US would send the weapons as part of a military aid package worth around $800m (£626m).
A decision criticised by human rights groups, Amnesty International noted that cluster munitions pose "a grave threat to civilian lives, even long after the conflict has ended".
Ambassador Prystaiko continued of Russia's justification for war: "Now, when they’ve seen there is no progress, they’ve had to explain something to their own people why they’ve even started this war.
"They were not happy with NATO encroaching - now they have plus 1,000km. So now, they’re using everything they can - including gas and substances."
He added that the Russian front line is "almost 1,000km - there are plenty of places to try".
Adding the city of Bakhmut "was more or less the only place the Russia had managed to get", the ambassador added the area was previously "a quite a little town - nobody in Ukraine even knew the name of it before.
"Now it became the centre of all of this," adding the potential loss of the territory would be an "enormous" blow to Putins plans.