The United States has not ruled out arming Ukraine’s military with cluster bombs, following repeated requests from Kyiv for the controversial weapons.
The production and use of cluster bombs is banned by over 100 countries, but Russia has been deploying them in Ukraine.
Joe Biden’s administration has indicated it is not likely to supply Kyiv with similar weapons in the near future, but has not yet taken it off the table as a last resort, CNN reported.
Cluster bombs carry submunitions or “bomblets” that spread and explode over a larger area.
They are designed to kill groups of soldiers in open ground or destroy columns of vehicles, but inevitably carry risks to civilian populations.
Ukraine has asked for cluster munitions that could be fired from Himars rocket launchers and howitzers.
The weapons are banned by the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions but Russia, Ukraine and the US are not among the signatories.
The UK is a signatory and withdrew its own arsenal of cluster bombs in 2008.
‘It will change the situation on battlefield’
Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has used cluster bombs that spread deadly bomblets across an area the size of a football pitch.
Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian politician, told CNN it was “extremely important” for the US to give his country cluster bombs.
He said: “It will really change the situation on the battlefield. With these, Ukraine will finish this war much faster, to the benefit of everybody.
“Russia is extensively using the old styles, the most barbaric styles, of cluster munitions against Ukraine.
“Personally, I was a victim of this. I was under this shelling. So we have all the right to use it against them.”
US officials are concerned about the potential for civilians to be killed or injured by misdirected or unexploded cluster munitions.
But a Ukrainian official said: “Russians use cluster munitions against us. The worry is about collateral damage. We are going to use them against Russian troops, not against the Russian population.”
In August, Daniel Craig, the former James Bond actor, and UN Ambassador, called for an end of the use of cluster bombs worldwide.
He addressed a United Nations conference in Geneva, chaired by the UK during its presidency of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.