New footage circulating online appears to show a Ukrainian cluster munitions strike on Russian infantry soldiers, as Ukraine’s grinding counteroffensive presses through its fourth month.
In a night-time clip shared to social media and a Telegram channel documenting the conflict, what looks to be a drone camera films a strike that quickly disperses smaller bombs, before soldiers caught in the midst of the strike rush to move away from the area.
Newsweek could not independently verify when, nor where, this clip was filmed. The Russian Defense Ministry has been contacted for comment via email.
Cluster munitions have been used on both sides of the conflict. They are both controversial and effective weapons against opposing infantry forces.
The U.S. agreed to supply Ukraine with dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) in July, and footage quickly emerged reportedly showing the first Ukrainian use of cluster bombs as Ukraine forged ahead with its counteroffensive against Russian defenses in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine is deploying cluster munitions “quite effectively,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said in mid-July. “They are actually having an impact on Russia’s defensive formations and Russia’s defensive maneuvering,” he added.
Cluster munitions are “very useful for clearing out large numbers of infantry,” Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute defense think tank told Newsweek ahead of the decision.
Cluster munitions work by releasing multiple smaller bombs, or submunitions, over a wide area. However, more than 120 countries across the world have banned cluster bombs, as they can place civilians in harm’s way and detonate long after they are first fired.
In mid-August, footage purportedly showing Ukrainian use of cluster munitions to retake the Donetsk village of Urozhaine rapidly spread online.
Dan Rice, a former adviser to Ukraine’s top soldier, General Valery Zaluzhnyi, and who has long advocated for the benefits of sending cluster bombs to Ukraine, previously told Newsweek that Ukraine should also receive M26 DPICM rockets containing cluster munitions that Kyiv could fire from HIMARS, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that the U.S. was planning to send another tranche of DPICMs to Ukraine, citing three U.S. officials. One unidentified official told the Times that cluster bombs were crucial in making sure Ukraine could sustain the momentum of its counteroffensive in southern Ukraine.
On Thursday, Kyiv said it had recaptured the Donetsk town of Andriivka, but much of Ukraine’s counteroffensive effort has focused on the southern front lines. Just days later, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv’s fighters had also retaken the nearby village of Klishchiivka, on the southern flank of the decimated city of Bakhmut.