Turkey supplied Ukraine with cluster bombs to defend against Russian invasion: report

Turkey supplied Ukraine with cluster bombs to defend against Russian invasion: report
The cluster bombs, which are banned in more than 100 countries, were reportedly sent by Turkey to Ukraine in November 2022.
2 min read
12 January, 2023
Ukrainian forces were reportedly sent cluster munitions by Turkey [GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images]

Turkey sent Ukraine US-designed cluster bombs in late 2022 after Kyiv pleaded with the Biden administration for the weapons to counter Russia’s invasion, according to a Foreign Policy report.

Dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICMs) - c ommonly called cluster bombs - are banned by more than 100 countries under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the United States is barred from exporting the DPICMs under US law. 

DPICMs were first manufactured by Turkey - a NATO member - during the Cold War era in a co-production agreement with the United States, and were first sent by Turkey to Ukraine in November 2022, the American journal said, citing 'former US and European officials familiar with the decision'.

Designed to destroy tanks, the DPICMs divide into smaller munitions that can remain on a battlefield for years. 

Neither Turkey nor the United States are members of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Experts fear that the use of these weapons in Ukraine could lead to munitions remaining on the ground long term, making them difficult to remove and adding to the mines and bombs that have been planted by Russian forces during their retreat towards the border. 

Their small size makes them especially hazardous for civilians, who could mistakenly pick them up - as happened during the 2006 war in Lebanon. 

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Turkey has sent critical weapons at key moments in the invasion of Ukraine. Earlier on in the conflict, the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones were extremely effective at halting the Russians’ advance, and reportedly played a role in helping sink Russia’s flagship Moskva. 

Over the course of the conflict, Ankara has sought to play a high-stakes balancing act - supporting Kyiv with weapons, playing the mediator during the UN-brokered deal for the export of grain from Ukrainian ports, and at the same time remaining an economic partner of Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov reportedly said of the claims made in the Foreign Policy report: "It is difficult to comment on the credibility of such reports, but we are monitoring them closely."