US President Joe Biden has arrived in the UK for a crucial Nato summit in Lithuania. However, his visit has been overshadowed by concerns raised by several allies regarding his decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine. The UK and Canada, among others, have expressed apprehension about providing these banned weapons due to the danger they pose to civilians. In this article, we will explore Biden’s visit, the controversy surrounding the cluster bombs, his meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and his encounter with King Charles.
Concerns Over Cluster Bomb Supply to Ukraine
The Danger Posed to Civilians and Allies’ Opposition
The decision by the US to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine has raised concerns among allies. Cluster bombs release numerous smaller bomblets that can cause indiscriminate casualties over a wide area. The unexploded bomblets pose a long-lasting threat to civilians. The UK, Canada, and New Zealand have voiced their opposition to this supply, highlighting the potential harm to innocent people.
UK-US Meeting: Biden and Sunak Discuss Ukraine and More
Exploring the Topics on the Agenda
On Monday, Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Their discussion will cover various issues, with a particular focus on the war in Ukraine. The cluster bomb controversy is likely to be addressed during this meeting, as the UK is a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Although Sunak has refrained from directly criticizing Biden, he emphasized the UK’s commitment to banning the production and use of such weapons.
Allies’ Response to the Cluster Bomb Controversy
Nato Partners Express Concern and New Zealand’s Warning
Nato partners, including New Zealand, have reacted strongly to the cluster bomb supply. New Zealand has warned about the potential harm caused by these munitions to innocent people. The concern stems from the fact that cluster bombs can cause massive damage and casualties, with unexploded bomblets remaining hazardous for years.
Explaining the Need for ‘Indiscriminate’ Weapons
Ukraine’s Depleting Weapon Stocks and Assurances from Kyiv
The US justifies the supply of cluster bombs to Ukraine based on the dwindling weapon stocks in the country. They argue that Ukraine needs these weapons to defend itself. However, concerns remain regarding the potential misuse of the cluster bombs. The US claims to have received written assurances from Kyiv that the weapons will not be used in Russia or urban areas.
Joe Biden’s Meeting with King Charles
A Historic Encounter During Biden’s Visit
During his visit to the UK, Joe Biden will also meet with King Charles. This will be their first meeting since the King’s coronation. The details of their conversation are yet to be disclosed, but this encounter holds significance in strengthening the diplomatic ties between the US and the UK.
Nato Summit in Lithuania and Ukraine’s Aspirations
Defence Plans, Finland’s Attendance, and Ukraine’s Path to Nato Membership
Nato members will convene in Vilnius for a summit, where they will discuss various matters, including ammunition stockpiles and defense plans. Finland will attend its first summit since joining Nato, while Sweden’s plans to follow suit have been obstructed by Turkey’s accusations of harboring terrorists. Ukraine also harbors ambitions of joining Nato, but President Biden emphasizes that this can only happen once the war is over. The summit will provide an opportunity for key discussions on Ukraine’s path to membership.
Allies’ Reactions to the Cluster Bomb Supply
Disagreements and Opposition within Nato
The US decision to fulfill Ukraine’s request for cluster bombs has not received unanimous support within Nato. While Germany understands the American position, Canada and Spain have expressed their opposition. Spain’s Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, emphasized the importance of legitimate defense without resorting to cluster bombs.
Cluster Bombs and Dud Rate
Assessing the Risks and Comparing to Russian Cluster Bombs
One of the concerns surrounding the supply of cluster bombs is their failure or dud rate. Unexploded bomblets can detonate unexpectedly, posing risks to civilians. The US asserts that its cluster bombs have a lower failure rate than those already used by Russia in the Ukraine war. However, these reassurances have not assuaged all concerns regarding the potential impact on innocent lives.
Ukraine’s Position and Hopes for Nato Membership
President Zelensky’s Acceptance and Expectations at the Summit
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accepted the Nato policy that membership can only be pursued after the war is over. He seeks a signal from Nato that Ukraine will be able to join the alliance once the conflict ends. President Zelensky is expected to attend this week’s summit, where discussions on Ukraine’s aspirations are anticipated.
US Aid Package and Biden’s Difficult Decision
Military Assistance and Ukraine’s Ammunition Shortage
The US decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine was part of a military aid package worth $800 million. Joe Biden described this as a challenging decision but justified it based on Ukraine’s dwindling ammunition supplies. However, the opposition from some Nato allies has prompted further scrutiny and debate over the implications of this aid.
In summary, US President Joe Biden’s visit to the UK has been overshadowed by concerns raised by allies regarding the supply of cluster bombs to Ukraine. The controversy stems from the potential danger these banned weapons pose to civilians. Biden’s meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will focus on various topics, including the war in Ukraine. Furthermore, Biden’s encounter with King Charles holds significance in strengthening diplomatic ties. The Nato summit in Lithuania will address defense plans, ammunition stockpiles, and Ukraine’s aspirations for Nato membership. However, the decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine has sparked disagreements among Nato members. The potential risks associated with these weapons and their failure rate remain subjects of concern. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, accepts that Nato membership can only be pursued after the war, and he hopes to receive a signal of support at the summit. Overall, Biden’s visit and the cluster bomb controversy have become key topics of discussion and analysis among allies.
Q1 : Why are cluster bombs widely banned?
A. Cluster bombs are banned due to the danger they pose to civilians. They release numerous smaller bomblets that can cause indiscriminate casualties over a wide area, and unexploded bomblets can remain hazardous for years.
Q2 : What is the concern surrounding the supply of cluster bombs to Ukraine?
A. Several allies have expressed concerns about supplying cluster bombs to Ukraine. The UK, Canada, and New Zealand, among others, have voiced opposition due to the potential harm caused to innocent people. Cluster bombs can cause extensive damage and casualties, and unexploded bomblets pose ongoing risks.
Q3 : What assurances has Ukraine given regarding the use of cluster bombs?
A. The US claims to have received written reassurances from Ukraine that the cluster bombs will not be used in Russia or in urban areas. Ukraine has also promised to monitor and report on the use of these weapons. However, Russia has dismissed these assurances as unreliable.
Q4 : What is the significance of Biden’s meeting with King Charles?
A. Biden’s meeting with King Charles holds significance in strengthening diplomatic ties between the US and the UK. This will be their first meeting since King Charles was crowned, and it presents an opportunity for discussions on various matters of mutual interest.
Q5 : What will be discussed at the Nato summit in Lithuania?
A. The Nato summit in Lithuania will cover topics such as ammunition stockpiles, defense plans, and Ukraine’s aspirations for Nato membership. It will provide an opportunity for member nations to review and strategize their collective defense efforts.
Q6 : Why can’t Ukraine join Nato until the war is over?
A. Nato follows a longstanding policy that membership can only be pursued once the conflict is resolved. This policy aligns with the alliance’s commitment to protecting “every inch” of each member’s territory. Once the war in Ukraine is over, discussions on Ukraine’s potential membership can progress.
Q7 : What is the dud rate of cluster bombs, and how does it compare to Russia’s cluster bombs?
A. The dud rate refers to the failure of cluster bombs to explode upon impact. The US claims that its cluster bombs have a lower failure rate than those already used by Russia in the Ukraine war. However, concerns remain regarding the potential risks posed by unexploded bomblets.
Q8 : How much was the US military aid package to Ukraine?
A. The US military aid package to Ukraine was worth $800 million. It included the supply of cluster bombs, which has generated controversy and opposition from some Nato allies.