Statements made by National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on the Sunday news shows have been seized upon by the Kremlin as a clear demonstration the US has 'confessed to war crimes'.
Kirby in a fresh interview with ABC was defending President Biden's approving cluster bombs for Ukraine, which are banned by over 120 countries internationally for being 'indiscriminate' and thus more likely to result in civilian deaths. Kirby at one point told ABC that "we can all agree that more civilians have been and will continue to be killed by Russian forces… than will likely be hurt by the use of these cluster munitions."
The administration's consistent rationale has been to say that while yes - this opens up Ukraine's military to the greater likelihood of committing war crimes - it's essentially OK because Russia is doing it.
Russia in particular is highlighting Kirby's admission that some civilians "will likely be hurt" by US-supplied cluster bombs.
Russia's ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov took note of Kirby's 'confession'...
We have taken note of the Director for Strategic Communications of the NSC John Kirby’s statements about the provision of cluster munitions to Ukraine. The official de facto confessed to the United States committing war crimes during the Ukrainian conflict.
He overtly stated that civilians would fall victim to 🇺🇸 cluster-type weapons.
He continued, "According to the perverted view of the White House representative, this does less harm than the actions of Russia."
Multiple leading Western allies have pushed back against the Washington decision, with Germany, the UK, Canada, Austria, and Spain all voicing their disapproval. But Kirby and the administration has emphasized it's all about "keeping Ukraine in the fight."
Kirby in the ABC interview admitted Ukraine's counteroffensive is going slower than expected, and that the rate of artillery fire is higher than what the West can keep up with. Kirby also admitted the higher risk of children and civilians being hurt by unexploded ordinance which is typical of cluster munition usage...
"We are very mindful of the concerns about civilian casualties and unexploded ordinance being picked up by civilians or children and being hurt, of course we're mind of that."
He then sought to justify it by saying the US will join Ukraine in de-mining efforts "when war conditions permit". He essentially shrugged off the criticisms that more civilians, Ukrainians in particular, could be severely maimed or die by cluster munitions. Watch:
White House spokesman John Kirby on @ThisWeekABC defended the Biden administration's decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine despite the weapons' risk to civilians. https://t.co/S8LgB5VQqp pic.twitter.com/88dfUCv4go— ABC News (@ABC) July 10, 2023
Last week, the same day it was widely reported the US administration will pull the trigger on sending the bombs, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a scathing report. It concluded:
- Ukrainian forces have used cluster munitions that caused deaths and serious injuries to civilians. Russian forces have extensively used cluster munitions, causing many civilian deaths and serious injuries.
- Cluster munitions used by Russia and Ukraine are harming civilians now and will leave bomblets behind that will continue to do so for many years.
- Both sides should immediately stop using cluster munitions and not seek to obtain more of these indiscriminate weapons. The US should not transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine.
Think hard about Kirby's reasoning ..— Lawyerforlaws (@lawyer4laws) July 10, 2023
Ukrainians will use cluster bombs on own area ...
That will be dangerous for decades to own people🤔
Many have forgotten~
Ukraine isn't only fighting Russia but they've been fighting against own people in these same areas for 9 years. https://t.co/flEfYnfRSK
Other groups and activists have warned it marks an escalation which is to provide greater dangers to civilians now and in the future. Skeptics of NATO policy have accused the White House and the Western allies of seeking to weaken Russia by "fighting to the last Ukrainian" while sabotaging peace negotiations. Kirby's words bolster that thesis.