US President Joe Biden Arrives in the UK for Nato Summit Amidst Concerns Over Cluster Bomb Decision.

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US President Joe Biden has touched down in the UK ahead of the Nato summit in Lithuania, which follows criticism from several allies regarding his decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine. The UK and Canada, among others, expressed concern over supplying the banned weapons due to the risk they pose to civilians. The US argues that the bombs are necessary as Ukraine’s weapon supplies are depleting. During his visit, President Biden will meet with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with discussions expected to cover various topics, including the conflict in Ukraine.

Although Prime Minister Sunak did not directly criticize President Biden following the announcement on cluster bombs, he emphasized that the UK is a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits the production and use of these weapons. Other US allies have been more vocal in their opposition, with New Zealand warning of the significant harm they could cause to innocent people. Cluster bombs typically release numerous smaller bomblets that have the potential to indiscriminately kill across a wide area, and unexploded bomblets can remain dangerous for years.

The US claims to have received written assurances from Ukraine that the weapons will not be used in Russia or urban areas. During his time in the UK, President Biden will also have his first meeting with King Charles since his coronation. Nato members, a military alliance of 31 Western nations, will gather in Vilnius for the summit, where discussions will revolve around bolstering ammunition stockpiles and reviewing defense plans. Finland will participate in its first summit since joining in April, while Turkey has blocked Sweden’s plans to attend due to accusations of harboring terrorists.

Ukraine has aspirations of joining Nato, but President Biden, in line with the alliance’s longstanding policy, stated that this can only happen once the war is over. Citing Nato’s mutual defense pact, he emphasized the commitment to protect each other’s territories, meaning that as long as the war persists, all members are effectively at war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accepted this stance while seeking a signal that Ukraine can join the alliance once the conflict concludes. He is expected to attend the upcoming summit.

President Biden’s decision to fulfill Ukraine’s request for cluster bombs was part of a military aid package worth $800 million. Although the US described it as a difficult decision made due to Ukraine’s dwindling ammunition supplies, several Nato allies distanced themselves from the move. Canada and Spain, both Nato member states, joined New Zealand in opposing the use of cluster bombs. Germany, also a signatory to the treaty, understood the US position but stated it would not provide such weapons to Ukraine. Concerns over the failure rate of cluster bombs and their potential indiscriminate detonation have been raised, while Ukraine has pledged not to use them in civilian areas and will monitor and report their usage. However, Russia dismissed these assurances as worthless.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Reuters

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