Ukraine received cluster bombs from the United States, munitions banned in more than 100 countries, but pledged to use them only to disperse gatherings of enemy soldiers.
Valeriy Chershin, a spokesman for Ukraine’s southern Tavria military region, on Thursday confirmed his commander’s comments that the munitions had arrived, a week after the United States announced plans to send them as part of an $800 million security aid package.
The Pentagon also announced the arrival of the ammunition.
Moscow condemned this step, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned on Thursday that his country might resort to deploying similar weapons if Ukraine used them.
Ukrainian officials say the deployment of cluster munitions is justified in light of Russia’s mining of large swathes of captured territory.
Ukraine launched a counterattack more than 500 days after the outbreak of the war.
It focused on retaking clusters of villages in the southeast and retaking areas around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces captured in May after months of fighting.
“This will further demoralize the Russian occupation forces and radically change things in favor of the Ukrainian forces,” Chershin told the US-funded Radio Liberty.
He added, “The ammunition would be used strictly within the legal framework to liberate our lands”.
“It won’t be used on Russian soil, and it will only be used in areas where Russian military forces are concentrated to penetrate the enemy’s defenses,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his country’s assurances during a NATO summit on Wednesday.
These types of bombs usually release large numbers of bomblets that can kill people indiscriminately over a wide area, and those that don’t explode pose a threat for decades after the end of the conflict.
Both sides have accused each other of using cluster bombs in the conflict that began with the Russian invasion in February 2022.
Human Rights Watch says that both Moscow and Kiev use cluster munitions.
Neither Russia, Ukraine nor the United States have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans their production, stockpiling, use and transfer.
Spain and Canada opposed the decision to send the munitions to Ukraine.
Britain said it was part of an agreement that discouraged the use of weapons.
Some US Democratic lawmakers have also expressed their concerns.
In addition, the governor of the Russian province of Voronezh, Alexander Gusev, announced on Friday, that the Air Defense Forces managed to shoot down three drones within several kilometers of Voronezh, in southern Russia, on Thursday evening.
On his Telegram channel, Gusev said, “The day before, the Air Defense Forces located and destroyed three R drones within a distance of several kilometers from Voronezh… No deaths, injuries or damages were recorded… I am following the situation personally”.
The Voronezh municipality reported late on Thursday that the situation in the city was calm.
The municipality also indicated that no emergency incidents requiring the intervention of rescue services were recorded.