Russian army to take hit from “game-changing” weapons: ex-Ukraine adviser

Russian casualties will quickly rise as Ukraine makes use of U.S.-supplied cluster munitions, a former adviser to Ukraine’s military has told Newsweek, as Washington said Kyiv is using the controversial weapons “effectively” against Moscow’s forces.

After months of debate, the U.S. agreed to send dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM), a type of cluster munition, to Ukraine, which Kyiv had long requested.

U.S. President Joe Biden told CNN that Washington had made the “difficult” decision to provide the weapons because “the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.”

Russian Soldiers
Soldiers who were among several hundred that took up positions around a Ukrainian military base walk on the base’s periphery in Crimea on March 2, 2014 in Perevalne, Ukraine. Russian casualties will quickly rise as Ukraine makes use of U.S.-supplied cluster munitions, a former adviser to Ukraine’s military has told Newsweek.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Military experts described cluster munitions as powerful tools which would be sure to help Ukraine in its ongoing counteroffensive against the Kremlin’s fighters in southern Ukraine. Lethal against infantry troops, they also allow Ukraine to inflict more damage on Russian targets with the same number of strikes.

Cluster bombs disperse submunitions over a wide area, sparking concerns about civilians being in harm’s way. Cluster munitions are banned in more than 120 countries under the Oslo Convention, although the U.S., Ukraine and Russia are not signatories to the agreement prohibiting their production, use or stockpiling.

Both Russia and Ukraine have used cluster munitions in the ongoing war so far. Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the regional military administration in the contested Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, said on Sunday that Russian forces had used cluster bombs to attack the Donetsk town of Chasiv Yar.

On Thursday, National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, said the White House had “gotten some initial feedback from the Ukrainians, and they’re using them quite effectively.”

“This is a powerful artillery that we have given them,” Pentagon deputy press secretary, Sabrina Singh, also told the media on Thursday.

“Even the last few days have shown DPICMs to be a “game-changer,” according to Daniel Rice, former special adviser to Ukraine’s lead commander, General Valery Zaluzhny.

Throughout the coming weeks, DPICMs will replace high-explosive (HE) rounds previously given to Ukraine, much increasing how much damage Kyiv’s fighters can do with artillery such as 155mm howitzers, Rice told Newsweek. The U.S. has provided almost 200 of the 155mm howitzers to Ukraine to date.

DPICMs are effective against both personnel and armored targets, he said.

The governor of the Belgorod region in eastern Ukraine claimed on Telegram that Kyiv had used cluster weapons on Saturday.

Experts say DPICM rounds have several advantages over HE ammunition, including covering a wider area and lengthening the life-span of artillery barrels firing the rounds.

Switching from HE to DPICM rounds is going to spark a “massive increase in Russian casualties,” Rice said, and both sides are likely going to change tactics to accommodate these rounds in Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations.

Throughout the war and ongoing counteroffensive, both sides are believed to have racked up high casualty counts, although neither Moscow nor Kyiv publishes a running tally of its losses.

On Sunday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in an operational update that Russia had now lost 241,960 fighters since the start of all-out war in February 2022.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment via email.

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