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An Ethics for the Use of Cluster-Munitions

As if our urgent need for developing (binding) ethical frameworks regarding the coming tsunami of AI, or the critical need for digital-watermarking of Deepfakes against rampant disinformation in democracies not pressing enough, now we must declare quickly — NOW! — the ethics on the strategic use of cluster bombs by a rational and sane people merely to remove the perennial aggressor and annihilator from their lands.

This announcement today by the defense minister of Ukraine is a sane and rational argument for the use of such an insane device of war. And yet its necessity is blindingly clear of their need to employ such madness — as transparently as possible! — to prevent the deaths of its own soldiers, who only wish to put a stop to this war’s insanity, and go no further.

Such is the world we have come to live in again: even compassionate action can welcome such a device of war, if it saves more innocent lives, and shortens things. It’s a horrible feeling to have, noticing yourself somehow slightly celebrating this news today of the release of cluster munitions to Ukraine. Even despite these, oh, many years doing intensive retreat in Buddhist temples! Shit!

But please read through his reasoning to the end. It is something which I wish I did not feel in such agreement with, as a moral issue. Absolutely.

It is important to note that the russian federation has been indiscriminately using cluster munitions from day 1 of the unprovoked large-scale aggression. In February-March 2022 Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city with over a million population, was relentlessly bombarded by russians cluster munitions.
Our position is simple - we need to liberate our temporarily occupied territories and save the lives of our people. For this we need to inflict losses on the enemy - war criminals, rapists and looters - who are occupying our territories. The more losses we inflict on them the more lives of Ukrainian people we will be able to save.
It is in our interest to save the lives of our soldiers. This is why we will continue to do this using all lethal weapons available to us.
Regarding the cluster munitions, we have 5 key principles which we will abide by and which we have clearly communicated to all our partners, including the US. I have personally informed our US partners about these five principles in writing a long time ago.
  1. Ukraine will use these munitions only for the de-occupation of our internationally recognised territories. These munitions will not be used on the officially recognized territory of russia.
  2. We will not be using cluster munitions in urban areas (cities) to avoid the risks for the civilian populations – these are our people, they are Ukrainians we have a duty to protect.
    Cluster munitions will be used only in the fields where there is a concentration of russian military. They will be used to break through the enemy defence lines with minimum risk for the lives of our soldiers. Saving the lives of our troops, even during extremely difficult offensive operations, remains our top priority.
  3. Ukraine will keep a strict record of the use of these weapons and the local zones where they will be used.
  4. Based on these records, after the de-occupation of our territories and our victory these territories will be prioritised for the purposes of de-mining. This will enable us to eradicate the risk from the unexploded elements of cluster munitions.
    The Minister of Defence of Ukraine is by law acting as the Head of the national de-mining agency. In this capacity I will ensure the implementation of the relevant legal framework for the de-mining process after our victory.
  5. We will report to our partners about the use of these munitions, and about their efficiency to ensure the appropriate standard of transparent reporting and control.


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