National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday defended the Biden administration’s decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine in a US military aid package amid pushback from some Congressional Democrats.
“Our moral authority has not been derived from being signatories to the Convention against Cluster Munitions. We are not, we have not been, at any time since the convention went into effect, nor is Ukraine,» Sullivan said in an interview on NBC News’ «Meet the Press.»
Most NATO members have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international agreement that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of weapons due to the risk they pose to civilians. But the United States has not signed the treaty, and neither has Russia or Ukraine.
“Our moral authority and Ukraine’s moral authority in this conflict stems from the fact that we are supporting a country that is being brutally and ruthlessly attacked by its neighbor with missiles and bombs raining down on its cities, killing its civilians, destroying their schools, their churches. , their hospitals,” Sullivans said. «And the idea that providing Ukraine with a weapon so that they can defend their homeland, protect their civilians, is in any way challenging our moral authority, I find questionable.»
He added: «I would say we are stepping up to give Ukraine what it needs to not be defenseless against a Russian attack.»
The administration’s recent decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine in a US military aid package was pushed back by some Democratic lawmakers, who noted that surface-to-surface warheads, which disperse small munitions or bombs in areas wide, they can explode after battle and sometimes injure or kill innocent people.
Biden has defended what he called his «very difficult decision» to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine, telling CNN last week that the war-torn country «needed» the controversial weapons to defend itself against Russian troops.
“It took me a while to convince myself to do it. But the main thing is that either they have the weapons to stop the Russians now, prevent them from stopping the Ukrainian offensive in these areas, or they don’t. And I think they needed them,» Biden said in an interview on CNN’s «Fareed Zakaria GPS.»
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also argued that Ukraine would be «defenseless» if the United States had not decided to supply the weapon.
“Unitary munitions stockpiles around the world and in Ukraine, not cluster munitions, were running low, nearing low,” Blinken said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” at the NATO summit in Lithuania.
“So the difficult but necessary decision to give them the cluster munitions boiled down to this: if we didn’t do it, we don’t do it, then they’re going to run out of munitions. If they run out of ammunition, they will be helpless.»
Sullivan also said on Sunday that Ukraine will have to take additional steps to meet «democratic reform» standards before it can join NATO, an alliance whose fundamental commitment is the mutual defense of all its members.
“Every member of the alliance, every country seeking to join NATO, has to meet certain standards of democratic reform,” he said. «And Ukraine’s own annual national programme, which it agreed to with NATO a few years ago, indicates that there are further steps it must take on the path of democratic reform.»
«When they are complete, Ukraine will be in a position to step forward and meet all the requirements for NATO membership,» he added.
kyiv has claimed that it will not be safe from Moscow until it is allowed to join NATO.
Sullivan noted that the United States and its NATO allies have «stepped up to provide unprecedented levels of support» to Ukraine.
«All we in the Biden administration can do is get up every day and work as hard as we can together with our allies and partners so that Ukraine gets what it needs as fast as it needs to be able to succeed in this effort.» » he said.