Republican lawmakers press Biden to send cluster bombs to Ukraine -letter

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By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four Republican members of Congress urged U.S. President Joe Biden to send cluster munitions to Ukraine, alleging in a Tuesday letter to the White House that the administration fears doing so would be seen as an escalation by Russia.

Ukraine is seeking the MK-20, an air-delivered cluster bomb, to release its individual explosives from drones, and 155 mm artillery cluster shells, Reuters reported earlier this month. Kyiv had urged members of Congress to press the White House to approve sending the weapons.

The letter criticized Biden for "reluctance to provide Ukraine the right type and amount of long-range fires and maneuver capability to create" a breakthrough against Russian forces.

The letter was signed by Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mike McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike Rogers the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

It urged Biden to send the Dual-Purpose Conventional Improved Munitions (DPICM) found in several types of U.S. munitions, including 155 millimeter artillery, GMLRS and ATACMS.

It is by no means certain the Biden administration would sign off on a transfer.

Cluster munitions, banned by more than 120 countries, normally release large numbers of smaller bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area, threatening civilians.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Marguerita Choy)