Valeriy Shershin, a spokesman for the southern Tavria military district, on Thursday confirmed his commander’s announcement that the weapons had arrived, a week after the United States said it would send them as part of an $800 million security package.
The Pentagon also announced their arrival.
Moscow has denounced their shipment. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned on Thursday that Russia could resort to deploying similar weapons if faced with their use.
Ukrainian officials say their deployment is justified given Russia’s mining of the vast swathes of land it has seized.
Ukraine launched a counter-offensive after more than 500 days of war, focusing on capturing clusters of villages in the country’s southeast and retaking areas around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces captured in May after months of fighting.
“This will further demoralize the Russian occupation forces and radically change things in favor of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” Shershin told US-funded Radio Liberty.
He said the munitions would be used strictly within the legal framework “only for the de-occupation of our lands.
“They will not be used on Russian soil… They will only be used in areas where Russian military forces are concentrated in order to break through the enemy’s defences.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated Ukraine’s assurances during the NATO summit on Wednesday.
Cluster munitions typically release large numbers of bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area. Those that do not explode pose a danger for decades.
Each side has accused the other of using cluster bombs in the conflict that was started by the Russian invasion in February 2022.
Human Rights Watch says Moscow and Kiev have used cluster munitions. Russia, Ukraine and the United States have not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the production, stockpiling, use and transfer of the weapons.
Spain and Canada opposed the decision to send the munitions to Ukraine, while Britain said it was part of an agreement that discouraged the use of weapons. Some US Democratic lawmakers too Starch their concerns.
Ukrainian military analyst Oleksandr Musienko said he assumed the weapons would be used in the south, where the commander of that region had announced their arrival.
“We can say that it is in the south, where it is planned to break through and destroy the fortifications of the enemy’s defense line,” Musienko told Ukrainian television. “I believe that cluster munitions will increase the capabilities of our forces.”
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said that Ukrainian forces are making progress in the south, forcing enemy forces to redeploy. Near Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces made gains south of the city, but encountered more difficulties to the north.
Russian accounts of the fighting said its forces had repulsed 16 Ukrainian attacks in the eastern Donetsk region alone.
(Reporting by Anna Proshnica and the Kyiv Newsroom; Editing by Timothy Heritage, Ron Popeski and Michael Berry)