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Ukraine has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Ukraine attended the international conferences of the Oslo Process to develop the text of the convention in Vienna in December 2007 and Wellington in February 2008. It attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 as an observer, and also came to the Oslo signing conference in December 2008 as an observer. It rarely intervened at these diplomatic meetings.

Ukraine is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), and ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War on 17 May 2005. Ukraine has participated regularly in the work of the CCW on cluster munitions in recent years.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

During a CCW session in April 2008, Ukraine stated that cluster munitions had long-term and deadly consequences for humanity, and should be dealt with effectively and urgently. Ukraine appealed to all states to declare a moratorium on the use of inaccurate and unreliable cluster munitions.[1]

However, Ukraine also insisted that the CCW was the only international forum in which an appropriate solution could be found. Ukraine called on all States Parties to the CCW to continue to promote the universality and efficiency of Protocol V to demonstrate the CCW’s relevance to work on issues such as cluster munitions and international humanitarian law.[2]

At the CCW in July 2008, Ukraine noted the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin, which it stated contained comprehensive norms prohibiting cluster munitions. Ukraine affirmed it would continue to study the convention and repeated its call for all states to enact a moratorium on the use and acquisition of cluster munitions which are unreliable and inaccurate. Ukraine stated that the CCW should try and promote synergies with the Oslo Process, especially in areas concerning victim assistance, international cooperation and assistance, and the protection of civilians and civilian objects. [3]

In September 2008, Ukraine again reiterated its call for a moratorium and welcomed the decision by the United States to place restrictions on the use, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1% by 2018.[4]

At the signing conference in December 2008, Ukraine, speaking as an observer, said that its participation reflected its desire to be “a supportive power” and wished the Oslo Process and the convention “every possible success.” [5]

On 11 December 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Ukraine abstained from signing the convention because it believed the introduction of a new global prohibition on a class of weapons should be based on universal principles and mandatory application, and it asserted that the majority of producers of cluster munitions were against a ban on cluster munitions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that while Ukraine supports the intention to renounce the use of cluster munitions as a means of warfare, at the same time, cluster munitions remain a legitimate weapon whose use is not prohibited under international humanitarian law.[6]

Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer

Ukraine is not known to have used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions. It inherited a stockpile of cluster munitions from the Soviet Union. Jane’s Information Group lists Ukraine as possessing KMG-U dispensers (which deploy submunitions), and RBK-250, RBK-275, and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[7] According to Jane’s, Ukraine also possesses Uragan 220mm and Smerch 300mm surface-to-surface rockets, but it is not known if these include versions with submunitions.

[1] Statement of Ukraine, Second 2008 Session of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts on Cluster Munitions, 8 April 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Statement of Ukraine, Third 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, 25 July 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[4] Statement of Ukraine, Fourth 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, 1 September 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[5] CMC, “Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference – Update 4 December 2008,” 8 December 2008, www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[6] “Ukraine will not abandon the use of cluster munitions,” Unian Net, 11 December 2008, unian.net. UNIAN is the press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[7] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 847.