Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. called on President Biden to “stop the relentless escalation” between the United States and Russia after he gave his administration the green light to send controversial weapons known as cluster munitions to Ukraine.
“Last year, WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the use of cluster bombs a ‘war crime.’ Now President Biden is planning to send them to Ukraine. Stop the incessant progress! It’s time for peace,” Kennedy wrote in a tweet.
“Biden was against cluster bombs in 1982 as well, when he opposed their sale to Israel,” Kennedy, who entered the White House race in April, added in a separate tweet. “What happened to his conscience?”
‘BIG MISTAKE’: TOP DEMOCRAT BLASTS BIDEN DECISION TO SEND CONTROVERSIAL CLUSTER BOMBS INTO UKRAINE
Kennedy’s remarks come after the Biden administration announced this week that its latest aid package to Ukraine would include cluster munitions, which are bombs that release small explosives over a wide area when detonated. . Cluster-type bombs are banned in more than 100 countries, as they are known to kill or maim civilians. In many cases, dud submunitions fall to the ground without exploding but unexpectedly detonate later, even years after they were dropped.
Both Russia and Ukraine has used cluster munitions since Moscow first launched its attack in February 2022. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan acknowledged Friday that cluster munitions pose a risk to civilians but said the danger their lives would be longer if Kyiv did not have enough weapons to fight the Russian troops. The “dud rate” for ammunition sent to the Pentagon in Ukraine is less than 3%.
In February 2022, while fielding questions from the press, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that Russia’s use of cluster bombs would be a “war crime.”
“There are reports of illegal cluster bombs and vacuum bombs being used by the Russians. If that is true, what is the next step of this administration? and possibly a war crime,” a reporter asked.
“It – it could be. I don’t have any confirmation of that. We’ve seen the reports. If that’s true, it could be a war crime,” Psaki replied at the time.
In a Washington Post report published Friday, the outlet recalled Biden’s “complicated history” on the issue of cluster munitions and highlighted how Biden has flip-flopped on the issue over time in relation to Israel’s use of weapons.
Biden’s decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine also drew concern from some House Democrats, including Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
“The decision by the Biden administration to move cluster munitions to Ukraine was unnecessary and a terrible mistake,” McCollum, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, said in a statement. “The legacy of cluster bombs is misery, death, and costly cleanup generations after their use. The US pays tens of millions of dollars a year to remove cluster munitions from the Vietnam era in Laos while these remnants of the war continue to kill and maim civilians.”
“As a strong supporter of the Biden administration’s policy in Ukraine, I must express in the strongest possible terms my absolute opposition to the US transfer of cluster munitions,” he added. “These weapons should be removed from our stockpiles, not dumped in Ukraine.”
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Lee, another Democrat who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said he was “alarmed” that Biden was “considering sending cluster bombs to Ukraine.”
“Cluster bombs work by scattering small ‘bomblets’ over a wide area. Many of these bombs do not explode – but remain a threat to civilians for decades,” Lee said on Twitter.
“The Ukrainian people are engaged in a just struggle for their rights, freedom and humanity. The US and Ukraine should not stoop to Putin’s level,” he added in another tweet.
Kennedy is considered a longshot in his race against incumbent Biden, who has a lot of support from the Democratic Party. In many polls, however, Kennedy received double-digit support among likely Democratic voters.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind and The Associated Press contributed to this report.