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Putin warns Ukraine on use of cluster munitions supplied by US: Live updates

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has a stern warning for Ukraine: If the nation uses cluster munitions − controversial weapons recently supplied by the U.S. − Russia “reserves the right to take reciprocal action.”

Putin, in an interview with Rossiya TV published on Telegram on Sunday, said his country has a “sufficient stockpile” of its own cluster weapons.

The Biden administration’s announcement in early July that it would deliver the munitions to Ukraine has been denounced by NATO allies. The ammunition has been banned by more than 100 nations and condemned by human rights groups for indiscriminately killing civilians. Russia, Ukraine and the U.S. did not sign the treaty banning cluster munitions.

But Biden and U.S. security officials say the munitions are needed to boost Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the 17-month-old war. The Pentagon said Thursday that the weapons had arrived in Ukraine.

On Sunday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan defended the U.S. decision. “Our moral authority has not derived from being a signatory to the Convention Against Cluster Munitions. We are not, we have not been, at any point since that convention came into effect, neither has Ukraine,” Sullivan said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Cluster munitions are artillery shells or bombs that disperse smaller weapons known as “bomblets.” The “dud” bomblets that don’t detonate on impact become land mines that can explode later and remain deadly for decades, rights groups say.

Putin’s comments were the first since Biden’s announcement. Putin also insisted Russia has not resorted to cluster bombs so far. “Until now, we have not done this, we have not used it, and we have not had such a need,” he said.

Developments:

∎ Russia launched two Iranian-made Shahed exploding drones, two cruise missiles and two anti-aircraft guided missiles in the last 24 hours, Ukrainian military officials said Sunday. Russia also launched 40 airstrikes and 46 attacks from multiple rocket launchers, officials said.

∎ Two boys, 8 and 10, were wounded when an explosive device left by Russian forces detonated in the southern region of Kherson on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office.

Ukraine on Saturday blasted Bulgarian President Rumen Radev’s remarks that Kyiv is to blame for the war with Russia and that supplying arms to Ukraine would only drag out the conflict.

Radev, in a news conference about the recent NATO summit, said he wanted “to make it clear that Ukraine insists on fighting this war. But it should also be clear that the bill is paid by the whole of Europe.”

The Embassy of Ukraine in Sofia in a statement said Kyiv was making all possible efforts to restore peace and rejected Radev’s comments. Blaming the war on Ukraine, which “was treacherously attacked by its northern neighbor, is one of the most common supporting theses of Russian propaganda and hybrid warfare in Europe,” the embassy said.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who has played a critical role in the U.K.’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Sunday that he will resign at the next Cabinet reshuffle.

Wallace has served as defense secretary under three prime ministers in four years on the job.

Wallace came under fire last week when he suggested that Ukraine should show “gratitude” for the West’s military support. He made the remark at the NATO summit in Lithuania after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed frustration about joining the military alliance. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from Wallace’s comments, saying Zelenskyy had “expressed his gratitude for what we’ve done on a number of occasions.”

Wallace told The Sunday Times he was stepping down because of the strain his job had put on his family.

Contributing: Eric Lagatta, Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press

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