Both the government of Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists have used cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine since mid-2014, causing numerous casualties, damaging infrastructure, and leaving a deadly legacy of unexploded submunitions that will endanger civilians for years to come until and unless they are cleared and destroyed. Human Rights Watch has identified a dozen locations in two of Ukraine’s eastern provinces (Donetsk and Luhansk) where two types of ground-launched cluster munitions and two types of explosive submunitions have been used to date.
While both Ukrainian and Russian authorities have condemned cluster munition use in populated areas, neither Ukraine nor Russia has joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, this use of banned cluster munitions has attracted widespread media coverage, public outcry, and condemnations from more than 30 countries. This swift response demonstrates the growing strength of the emerging norm against any use of cluster munitions by any actor under any circumstance.
This Technical Briefing Note looks at the types of cluster munitions used in eastern Ukraine, locations of attacks, and civilian casualties, as well as the international response.