Cluster Bomb Strategy Will Be Cluster-f*** for Ukraine and NATO

Dumping tonnes of this particularly cruel explosive on the Ukrainian army seems like a good sticking plaster for what is in reality a gaping wound.

The news that NATO, or rather that the U.S., has decided to offload its aging stock of cluster bombs shouldn’t really come as a surprise to those following the Ukraine War. From day one, western elites have been confused about what they are doing, what their objectives are and what the end game should be. NATO has shifted the goalposts so many times, in terms of unwritten rules, that it is becoming quite hard to see a clear picture. Even Stoltenberg himself seems flustered at a press conference when he is tackled on the nuts ‘n bolts of the latest plans.

Cluster bombs are now to be used against Russian forces in particular to stop tanks. The reason why this decision has been taken is clear though: the West needs to buy time for EU countries in particular to build up their military stocks which are running dangerously low. The West needs at least six months before it can even think about preparing Ukraine for a new “offensive” and so dumping tonnes of this particularly cruel explosive on the Ukrainian army seemed like a good sticking plaster for what is in reality a gaping wound.

But are these the same cluster bombs which most of NATO members signed a treaty to ban? Are these the same bombs that the west used to take the high moral ground with when accusing Russia of using them against Ukrainian forces? The hypocrisy, or rather desperation is stunning but it underlines a point which keeps raising its ugly head. The more time that passes with no change to the fortified line, the more Russia wins and the more the West loses. And NATO bosses and perhaps Biden knows this and so the initiative of cluster bombs to me personally, as a journalist who has witnessed what they do in war zones, is a measured strategy of a side which knows it’s losing and wants to slow down the speed of its own demise on the battlefield.

What people don’t tell you about cluster bombs is their remarkable ability to kill civilians – usually children – rather than change the course of history on a battlefield. And what most western journalists won’t mention in their copy is that America has been using such dirty bombs since the Vietnam war, when, during the late sixties 270 million of these tiny “submunitions” were dropped in Laos which still kill children to this day who find them in fields and play with them.

But it’s no game for the soldiers who on the Ukrainian side are expected to feel better now that the howitzers, HIMARS, Javelins not to mention the Bradleys have all stopped being supplied. Now, they are supposed to have their spirits lifted by the imminent arrival of the cluster bombs which I would doubt very much will be used to attack Russian forces on the Russian side of the fortified line. No, what is much more likely is that they will be used in a defensive capacity when the Russians decide the penetrate the line and enter the Ukrainian side and make a move on cities like Odessa. The cluster bombs will be used against the Russian tanks and used in such copious amounts that thousands of these little explosives will be left in rural areas hidden under the soil for children in decades to come to discover. On the battlefield, the pictures of civilians being blown apart by them as well as soldiers, will be ubiquitously distributed no doubt by the Kiev propaganda unit – the same unit which helps British journalists with their salacious stories about Russian bombs being “seen” on the sides of the Zaporizizhya nuclear power plant, as just one example.

NATO has a crisis on many levels. Not only does it not believe it can defeat the Russians, it also has a financial problem which its secretary general hinted at recently in a press conference. It is hoping for more of its members to spend more on defence or at least reach the 2% GDP threshold but it’s as though Stoltenberg knows that with EU economies flat broke – the German central bank so broke that it needs to ask for a bailout from the ECB – that it is hard to imagine that the levels of military aid are going to be anything like before. The cluster bomb initiative is so desperate and so pathetic on so many levels that Zelensky needs to see where the future lies. The best-case scenario for him is that the conflict halts for an indefinite period of time in what analysts are calling a “freeze” although this seems unlikely on the Russian side. But even with a freeze, the credibility of NATO crumbles as more and more western citizens wake up to a reality that NATO itself does not own hardware. Its member states who own this and contribute it when it can. But now this supply line is rapidly drying up and what we are witnessing now at Vilnius with the offer of a Ukraine NATO council is just smoke and mirrors. Just more delaying tactics while Joe Biden scratches his head and works out his next move, which will probably involve private contractors fighting for the West which the U.S. president will just have to hope that Russia doesn’t treat as NATO soldiers. There are rumours that retired air force pilots are being approached in America and being asked if they would fly F16s in Ukraine. If Zelensky is about to turn on the west and issue ultimatums, this is what he will probably ask for. Again, shifting goal posts. The only strategy in Ukraine which has any consistency.

By Martin Jay
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

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