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Ukraine Army Fired Cluster Bombs On Civilians

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According to The New York Times the Ukraine Amy has used cluster bombs on civilian populations in East Ukraine. Cluster bombs are banned in many countries which are signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, though the use of cluster bombs itself can be considered a war crime if used against civilians. Cluster munitions eject smaller munitions which can hit lots of areas around a target indiscriminately and can be difficult to retrieve after they are dropped. Ukraine is not a signatory to the convention nor is the United States.

The Times story alleges that the Ukraine Army fired cluster bombs in the middle of the city of Donetsk. Donetsk is part of a separatist region that forces loyal to Kiev were at one time trying to force back into the fold before a cease fire was signed. The city is heavily populated and the cluster bomb attack wounded at least six people and killed a Swiss employee of the International Red Cross.

The cluster bombs were reportedly delivered by rockets fired on October 2nd and 5th.

The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims

At the Red Cross headquarters in Donetsk, Human Rights Watch researchers accompanied by a Times reporter documented 19 distinct impacts of cluster submunitions from the Oct. 2 attack. Judging by impact craters from rockets fired in the same salvo, the researchers said, the strike came from the southwest. A witness to the Oct. 2 launch in Novomikhailovka told the reporter about the malfunctioning rockets in the fields. Other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch on the evening of Oct. 2 confirmed that rockets had been fired from just south of the village toward Donetsk.

The Ukraine Army has denied the charge but said they can not investigate the allegations at this time. The evidence is rather substantial and it would be difficult for the Ukrainian military to hold an investigation and not incriminate itself.

Human Rights Watch worked with the Times and published their own report on the use of cluster bombs which claimed higher casualty figures. Human Rights Watch said it believed both sides used cluster bombs – something the Times could not confirm – but that its strongest evidence was that the Ukraine Army used them in the early October attacks. Human Rights Watch investigators traveled to site where the army had been and found misfired cluster munitions which provided convincing evidence that Ukrainian military forces fired cluster bombs on the city of Donetsk.

The use of such weapons on the people of East Ukraine by the Ukraine military is likely to further erode the possibility that the separatists regions will reunite with the government in Kiev. If anything, these potential war crimes will further estrange east and west Ukraine.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.