Controversial Weapons to Ukraine Exposes Unusual Divide in Congress

President Joe Biden has approved the transfer of controversial cluster bombs to Ukraine in its latest defense package for the war-torn country.

Kyiv has been asking for the munitions, but human rights organizations have pushed back against the weapons, which are banned by over 100 countries due to their potential to fail and remain an explosive hazard on the ground.

In a CNN interview, Biden defended finally granting the weapons to Ukraine.

“It was a very difficult decision on my part. And by the way, I discussed this with our allies, I discussed this with our friends up on the Hill,” Biden told the network.

“This is a war relating to munitions. And they’re running out of that ammunition, and we’re low on it,” Biden added. “What I finally did, I took the recommendation of the Defense Department to, not permanently, but to allow for this transition period, while we get more 155 weapons, these shells, for the Ukrainians.”

Biden’s decision comes even as his administration decried Russia’s use of the same cluster munitions at the start of the war, calling them a possible “war crime”.

Congress Split, but Not On Party Lines

Factions of both parties have come out in support and against Biden’s decision.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) came out in support of the move on Twitter.

“For Ukrainian forces to defeat Putin’s invasion, Ukraine needs at least equal access to the weapons Russia already uses against them, like cluster munitions. Providing this new capability is the right decision — even if it took too long — and is one I’ve supported,” he tweeted.

Republican leadership from House and Senate foreign affairs committees also issued a joint statement of support.

But some Republicans spoke out against the move.

“Instead of focusing on a peaceful solution, Biden is sending us into WWIII,” tweeted Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

Similarly on the Democrat side, a group of 19 progressive Democrats issued a statement against delivering the weapons to Ukraine.

“The United States has a proud commitment to global moral leadership and the defense of human rights. That commitment should have included refusing to transfer cluster munitions that, by design, hold a serious risk of severe harm to civilians,” it reads.

Yet a number of Democrats supported the move.

Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who joined Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on a congressional trip to Ukraine in April, issued a statement of support.

Ukrainians “have asked for these rounds to deploy in self-defense on their own soil because they see it as critical to their survival,” he said.

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