Earlier this month, Biden announced that the United States would provide another $800 million in Ukrainian military aid in the administration’s efforts to counter Russia’s military offensive. The package will include dual-purpose improved conventional munitions for Ukraine, which are more commonly known as cluster bombs.
Cluster bombs are banned by more than 100 countries, including most European countries and the Holy See, because of the high rates of civilian casualties caused by the weapons. The United States, Russia, and Ukraine have not banned the use of these weapons.
The United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed concern about the inclusion of cluster bombs in the package due to “their indiscriminate nature and risk to civilian populations long after fighting has ceased.”
“Pope Francis has addressed the conventions on antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions, exhorting all countries to commit to these conventions ‘so that there are no more mine victims,’” read a statement from Rockford Bishop David Malloy, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. “While recognizing Ukraine’s right to self-defense, we must continue to pray for dialogue and peace, and I join with our Holy Father in supporting and sharing in his moral concern and aspiration.”
Some lawmakers sought to prohibit the president from providing Ukraine with cluster bombs through an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The effort received support from 98 Republicans and 49 Democrats but ultimately failed 147-276.
This article has been updated.