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US State Department says artillery use by Kiev in country’s east justified

July 31, 2014, 17:51 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
What Washington calls the standard artillery component in most cases are incendiary weapons - munitions with white phosphorus, containing many small-calibre shells within the primary cartridge
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© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Javakhadze

WASHINGTON, July 31 /ITAR-TASS/. The US administration said on Wednesday that Kiev’s use of artillery in densely populated areas in the east of Ukraine against separatist militias is justified.

Deputy spokesperson for the US Department of State Marie Harf told a briefing that the armaments that are specified in reports from Ukraine are the standard artillery component in the armed forces of the former Soviet republics. Harf said the US side was not going to tell Ukrainians that they cannot use the standard weapons, especially when they come under the separatist fire, adding that the operation in the east of Ukraine is conducted because Kiev is responsible for protecting its citizens.

“In terms of events of what’s happening on the ground, our view is that the Ukrainian security forces’ operations have been moderate and measured; they’ve been taking steps to maintain calm within their own country. Our belief is that while President Poroshenko said he’s ready to implement a bilateral ceasefire, any ceasefire must be mutual, and there are steps that the Russians have not taken that they need to continue to take,” she said.

What Washington calls the standard artillery component in most cases are incendiary weapons - munitions with white phosphorus or cluster munitions, containing many small-calibre shells within the primary cartridge. Phosphorus munitions are prohibited under Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of October 10, 1980, and cluster munitions are prohibited by the relative international Convention of August 1, 2010.

The Russian Defense Ministry on July 25 cited official statistics of the use by the Ukrainian army such munitions against civilians: on 12 and 21 June - in the city of Sloviansk, on 21 June - in Kramatorsk, on 24 and 29 June - in Semyonovka settlement, on 7 July - in the city of Lisichansk and on 23 July - in the city of Donetsk.

Cluster munitions are large munitions that contain dozens and often hundreds of smaller submunitions. Either airdropped or surface launched, cluster munitions are area effect weapons that spread their submunitions over a large field. Phosphorous munitions produce exceptionally painful thermal and respiratory burns, which can lead to complications such as shock, infection and asphyxiation. Chief surgeon of the Russian Armed Forces Nikolai Yefimenko said that long-term adverse health effects of the use of these munitions are increased cancer incidence and hereditary deformity in children.”

However, Marie Harf said that Kiev in its military operation against the separatist militias has been demonstrating “moderation.

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