Putin says Russia has ‘sufficient stockpile’ of cluster bombs as Ukraine gets its own supply from US

An cluster ammunition rocket lies on a sunflower field at sunset in 2022, in the recently retaken area of Kharkiv region, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File)

Police officers look in 2022 at collected fragments of the Russian rockets, including cluster rounds, that hit Kharkiv, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Libkos, File)

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published Sunday that Moscow has a “sufficient stockpile” of cluster munitions, and warned that Russia “reserves the right to take reciprocal action” if Ukraine uses the controversial weapons.

In his first comments on the delivery of cluster munitions to Ukraine from the U.S., Putin said that Russia hasn’t used cluster bombs in the war with Ukraine so far. But the use of cluster bombs by both Russia and Ukraine has been widely documented, including by The Associated Press and international humanitarian organizations, and cluster rounds have been found in the aftermath of Russian strikes.


“Until now, we have not done this, we have not used it, and we have not had such a need,” he said.

Rossiya TV reporter Pavel Zarubin published excerpts of the interview to his Telegram channel Sunday before a scheduled broadcast on Sunday night.

The Pentagon said Thursday that cluster munitions provided by the United States had arrived in Ukraine.

The munitions, which are bombs that open in the air and release scores of smaller bomblets, are seen by the U.S. as a way to get Kyiv critically needed ammunition to help bolster its offensive and push through Russian front lines. U.S. leaders debated the thorny issue for months, before President Joe Biden made the final decision last week.

Cluster bombs have long been criticized by humanitarian groups, and some U.S. allies, because those used in previous conflicts have had a high “dud rate,” meaning that they often leave behind unexploded bomblets that can harm civilians long after a battle has ended.

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