Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia possesses an ample supply of cluster munitions and cautioned Ukraine that Russia reserves the right to retaliate if Ukraine employs these controversial weapons. In his first comments addressing the delivery of cluster munitions from the US to Ukraine, Putin claimed that Russia has refrained from using cluster bombs in the ongoing conflict, although there is documented evidence of both Russia and Ukraine utilizing such munitions.
Excerpts of Putin's interview were published by Rossiya TV reporter Pavel Zarubin on his Telegram channel, ahead of the scheduled broadcast. The Pentagon confirmed that the United States had delivered cluster munitions to Ukraine, considering them a critical means to bolster Ukraine's offensive against Russian front lines.
The use of cluster bombs has long been criticized by humanitarian organizations and some US allies due to their high "dud rate," which leaves unexploded bomblets posing a threat to civilians long after hostilities end. However, proponents argue that the cluster munitions provided by the US have been improved to reduce the number of unexploded rounds.
Ukraine has pledged to employ these weapons away from densely populated areas. In the ongoing conflict, the Ukrainian military reported multiple attacks by Russia, including the use of Iranian-made drones, cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles, airstrikes, and rocket launcher attacks. The situation remains dire, with casualties reported in various regions, including Donetsk and Kherson.
Meanwhile, the Moscow-installed authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea reported a "massive and prolonged" drone attack targeting Sevastopol, which hosts Russia's Black Sea Fleet. However, all the drones were reportedly shot down by air defense systems, resulting in no damage. In a separate incident, a woman was tragically killed by shelling in the town of Shebekino near the border with Ukraine, as reported by the governor of Russia's Belgorod region.