Ukraine updates: US to supply cluster bombs to Kyiv
The Joe Biden administration announced a new Ukraine military package that will include controversial cluster munitions for the first time
US to send cluster munitions to Ukraine
The United States confirmed that it will send cluster munitions to Ukraine to help its military push back Russian forces entrenched along the front lines.
President Joe Biden "approved it... after unanimous recommendation," US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, adding that this "difficult" decision was made after consultation with "allies and partners,"
Sullivan defended the decision, saying the US will send a version of the munition that has a reduced "dud rate," meaning fewer of the smaller bomblets fail to explode. The unexploded rounds, which often litter battlefields and populated civilian areas, cause unintended deaths.
"We recognize that cluster munitions create a risk of civilian harm from unexploded ordnance," Sullivan told reporters. "This is why we've deferred the decision for as long as we could."
"But there is also a massive risk of civilian harm if Russian troops and tanks roll over Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian territory and subjugate more Ukrainian civilians because Ukraine does not have enough artillery," he said.
The Biden administration announced that it will send cluster munitions as part of a new military aid package worth $800 million (€733 million). A new package "will provide Ukraine with additional artillery systems and ammunition, including highly effective and reliable dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM)," the Pentagon said in a statement, referring to cluster munitions.
The move will likely trigger outrage from some allies and humanitarian groups that have long opposed the use of cluster bombs. Germany opposes sending cluster munitions to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. Germany is one of 111 states party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The US is not a party to the convention.
Proponents argue that Russia has already been using the controversial weapon in Ukraine and that the munitions the US will provide have a reduced dud rate, meaning there will be far fewer unexploded rounds that can result in unintended civilian deaths.
Zelenskyy arrives in Turkey
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyp Erdogan.
According to Zelenskyy's tweet, the main topics in the meeting will be "coordination of positions on the peace formula, the NATO summit, security guarantees and the grain initiative, reconstruction of Ukraine, defense contracts between our companies."
The Ukrainian president was in Prague in the morning and then met with Slovak leaders in Bratislava in the afternoon. Yesterday he started his intensive multi-country tour in Bulgaria.
German environment office: Ukraine war keeping C02 emissions high
Germany failed to make a dent in its emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases last year, as Russia's war against Ukraine prevented significant progress, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) said.
"As a result of the Russian aggression, emissions are stagnating at the pre-pandemic level and we are even observing a renewed increase in coal firing," said UBA President Dirk Messner. To counteract this, renewable energy production must be expanded more rapidly, he said.
Last year, 354 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, or 1 million fewer tons than in 2021, were emitted, the UBA said. While emissions in the energy sector rose by 3% to 242 million tons, they fell in industry by 6% to 112 million tons, due to the war.
Prior to the pandemic, a significant decrease in emissions had been recorded in Germany, the office said. To reduce emissions, renewable energy must increase and "we must phase out coal by 2030," Messner said.
"The now reformed emissions trading, with significantly lowered emissions caps from 2024, can provide noticeable impetus for this," he said. Across Europe, too, emissions changed only slightly, as 1.32 billion ton were reported last year, a decrease of 1% from 2021.
Stoltenberg: US cluster bombs would be for Ukraine's defense
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has signaled understanding for ongoing deliberations in the United States to arm Ukraine with cluster bombs against Russia.
"We are faced with a brutal war," he said, noting that both sides are using cluster bombs. However, Stoltenberg stressed that Ukraine is only using cluster munition in defence.
"Russia is using cluster munition to attack, to invade Ukraine. Ukraine is using cluster munition to protect itself against an aggressor," he said.
Stoltenberg said that it is for individual allies to decide on what weapons and equipment to send Ukraine, but underlined that NATO has no common position over the use of cluster bombs.
According to US media reports, the United States is expected to send cluster munitions to Ukraine to help the war-torn nation further repel Russia's invasion.
Grain deal: UN chief urges focus on global food security
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the deals allowing the safe Black Sea export of food and fertilizer from Ukrainian ports and facilitating Russia's own such exports as playing an "indispensable role" in global food security.
"The Secretary-General and his team remain fully committed to building on the progress already made and are in constant contact with a wide range of stakeholders in this regard," UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
"The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to prioritize global food security," Haq said. The Black Sea grain deal is due to expire on July 17 unless Russia agrees to its renewal.
Slovakia expects clear view on Ukraine's NATO membership at summit
NATO's summit next week should give Ukraine a clear view on future membership in the military alliance, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova said after hosting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Bratislava.
"What I hope and believe we will give Ukraine (at the NATO summit) is a vision of future membership, of course if the conditions are met, including the most important one, which is an end to the war, to the military aggression in Ukraine," Caputova said in a televised press conference alongside Zelenskyy.
She also said that Ukraine's NATO membership was a question of "when", not "if".
Meanwhile, Zelenskyy said he expected to see unity among NATO member states at the Vilnius summit and that he wanted to see concrete steps on Ukraine's movement to join the alliance.
He called on NATO to resolve the issue of Sweden and Ukraine's membership bids, saying indecision is threatening the strength of the alliance and global security.
The Ukrainian president also said he expected more "defence packages" and security guarantees for Ukraine at the summit.
Zelenskyy arrived in Slovakia, Ukraine's western neighbour, from Prague and will be heading to Istanbul for talks with Erdogan later on Friday.
HRW warns cluster bombs cause 'indiscriminate' harm
Human Rights Watch's has warned of "indiscriminate" nature of cluster bombs, as the US was set to announce a military aid package worth approximately $800 million (or €734 million) that could include cluster munitions.
"Beyond the immediate effects these weapons have, they have lasting and serious consequences for civilians. Many of these submunitions fail to explode and they expose civilians for decades to danger," senior researcher in the Crisis and Conflict division at Human Rights Watch, Rich Weir, told DW.
He said the risk cluster bombs pose to civilians was not worth the promise of countering Russia's invasion. Weir added that Ukraine has other options to speed up the end of the war without resorting to these bombs, which are "difficult to find and difficult to clear."
Weir also said Russia should also refrain from the use of cluster bombs. "This is not about focusing our attention on Ukraine. This is about all parties, not just in Ukraine and Russia, but everywhere, because of the extraordinary harm that these weapons cause to civilians and continue to cause them long after wars finish," he added.
UN: More than 25,000 civilians injured or killed in Ukraine
At least 25,170 civilians have been injured or killed in Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine in its first 500 days. The number includes 9,177 killed and 15,993 injuries, according to the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
Of those casualties, among adults whose sex was known, men comprised 61% and women comprised 39%. Of those casualties among children whose sex was known, boys comprised 57.2%, and girls comprised 42.8%.
According to the UN agency, the number of victims relates to the period from February 24, 2022 to June 30, 2023. The highest monthly numbers of civilian casuaties occurred in March and April 2022. The numbers then decreased gradually.
Actual numbers of civilian casualties are considerably higher, as many reports of individual civilian casualties in certain locations are still pending corroboration, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
Stoltenberg: NATO summit will bring Ukraine closer to membership
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the upcoming meeting of the alliance's leaders in the Lithuanian capital will reaffirm their support for Ukraine.
"For 500 days, Moscow has brought death and destruction to the heart of Europe," Stoltenberg said as Kyiv marked 500 days since Russia launched the full-scale invasion in February last year.
"Our summit will send a clear message: NATO stands united, and Russia's aggression will not pay," he told reporters in a news conference in Brussels previewing the summit.
Despite previously ruling out that the summit would result in a formal invitation for Ukraine to join NATO, Stoltenberg said that he expected Kyiv would become a member in the future.
"I expect our leaders to reaffirm that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and to unite on how to bring Ukraine closer to its goal."
Zelenskyy arrives in Slovakia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has arrived in Bratislava and is set to meet with his Slovak counterpart, Zuzana Caputova, her office said.
The Ukrainian leader is on a tour of several NATO states to shore up further support for Kyiv and push for membership of the defense alliance.
Cluster munitions could be useful in Ukraine counteroffensive, expert tells DW
Mike Martin, senior war studies fellow at King's College in London, said the expected new US-aid package for Ukraine could help Kyiv's counteroffensive against Russia.
"We can't say that any one weapon system (cluster bombs) is going to be the thing that Ukraine needs to win the war. But they are very useful for Ukraine," Martin said.
"At the moment, Ukraine is doing this offensive, and dropping armour-piercing bomblets are obviously very useful if you're being if you're going against armored vehicles," he added.
He further said that the "Ukrainians are trying to take out Russian supply dumps. So particularly petrol, oil, things that keep machinery going, and cluster munitions are very useful for that as well."
Over 120 countries ban cluster bombs because they can kill indiscriminately over a wide area, threatening civilian injuries.
"Cluster bombs can be dropped from planes and can be fired out of artillery or they can be on rockets. Once they explode they drop into multiple, up to 100 bomblets that fall onto the target," Martin said.
Germany rules out sending cluster ammunition to Ukraine
Berlin will not deliver cluster ammunition to Ukraine as it is bound by a convention banning the production and use of such weapons, said German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.
"Germany has signed the convention, so it is no option for us," Pistorius told reporters after meeting his Austrian and Swiss counterparts.
"As for those countries that have not signed the convention — China, Russia, Ukraine and the US — it is not up to me to comment on their actions."
Russia says closely flowing Zelenskyy-Erdogan talks
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the upcoming meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan was "important."
"We will very closely follow the results of these talks," Peskov said.
"It will be interesting for us to find out what was discussed. It's important," he added.
Peskov also said that Russia "cherishes" its relationship with Turkey.
"Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly made great efforts to end various problems within the framework of the Ukrainian conflict and played a mediating role," the spokesman said.
Erdogan has maintained strong ties with both Russian and Ukraine since Moscow started the war last year and has sought a mediator role. Most notably, he helped broker a key grain deal to unblock Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.
In his talks with Erdogan, Zelenskyy is set to push for Ukraine's bid to join NATO.
Ukraine's security is all Europe's security, says Czech PM
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has said that he believes Ukraine's future is in the European Union and in NATO, saying the security of Ukraine was essential to the security of Europe.
Speaking after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Prague, Fiala also said more support would come to help Kyiv fight off invading Russian forces, including more military helicopters.
In addition, Fiala said that EU countries were looking at ways to pay for Ukraine's reconstruction by using frozen Russian assets, while conceding that doing so was not a simple matter from a legal point of view.
Zelenskyy, in his turn, said Kyiv needed long-range weapons to defend against the Russian invasion.
"Without long-range weapons it is difficult not only to carry out an offensive mission but also to conduct a defensive operation," he told a joint press conference with Fiala.
"We are talking about [the delivery of] long-range systems with the United States, it depends only on them today," Zelenskyy added.
IAEA is 'making progress' in Zaporizhzhia: Chief Grossi
The UN’s nuclear watchdog is "making progress" on inspecting several parts of the Zaporizhzhia plant, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said on Friday.
Concerns were raised after the claims that the plant had been mined.
"We have been able to complete the tours of the cooling ponds and other places," Grossi said, adding they had "not seen any indications of explosives or mines."
He added that IAEA officials had not yet been authorized to visit the facility's rooftops.
"This is a combat zone, it's an active warzone, so sometimes it may take a day or two to get the authorizations," he noted.
Kyiv and Moscow accused each other of planning "dangerous provocations" at Europe’s largest nuclear plant.