Five-Year Review: Non-signatory Ukraine has not taken any steps to accede to the convention. It has participated as an observer in several of the convention’s meetings.
Ukraine is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but inherited a large stockpile from the Soviet Union and sees military utility in cluster munitions. From mid-2014 until a February 2015 ceasefire, the armed forces of the government of Ukraine as well as Russian-backed armed opposition groups used ground-launched cluster munition rockets in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine. The government of Ukraine has repeatedly denied using cluster munitions in the attacks.
Ukraine has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Since the first evidence of cluster munition use emerged in eastern Ukraine in mid-2014, Ukrainian officials have denied the use of these banned weapons, while ignoring multiple calls for the government to renounce the use of cluster munitions and accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (see Use and Responses to cluster munitions use sections below).
Ukraine has informed the Monitor that it “considers cluster munitions to be legal weapons which remain an important component of Ukraine’s defense capabilities.” It has acknowledged that cluster munitions have long-term and deadly consequences and in 2008 proposed that the weapons be addressed “urgently.” Ukraine has called for a moratorium on the use of what it has called “inaccurate and unreliable” cluster munitions.
Ukraine has also stated that, if using its own resources alone, it would not be able to destroy the large stockpile of cluster munitions that it inherited from the Soviet Union within the eight-year stockpile destruction deadline required by the Convention on Cluster Munitions (see Stockpiling and destruction section below).
Ukraine has expressed a preference for cluster munitions to be tackled through the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) to which it is a party. Yet Ukraine has not reviewed or amended this position since the CCW’s failure in 2011 to agree on a draft protocol on cluster munitions, which effectively ended CCW deliberations on the matter leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument to specifically address the weapons. Ukraine participated in several meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 as an observer.
Since 2008, Ukraine has shown some interest in the convention. It participated as an observer in the convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2010, 2011, and the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in San José, Costa Rica in September 2014. Ukraine has not attended any of the convention’s intersessional meetings held in Geneva since 2011.
Ukraine has voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, including Resolution 69/189 on 18 December 2014, which expressed “outrage” at the continued use.
Ukraine is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty.
In 2010, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that Ukraine would not use cluster munitions except to defend itself from outside aggression.
The first evidence that cluster munitions were being used in the conflict in eastern Ukraine appeared in Donetsk province in early July 2014. Field research conducted by Human Rights Watch in October 2014 and a follow-up investigation in January–February 2015 confirmed the use of cluster munitions by both Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed anti-government forces. An Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission has also been reporting on the cluster munition rocket attacks.
As of 1 July 2015, no cluster munition rocket attacks had been recorded since the ceasefire went into effect on 16 February 2015.
Both parties to the conflict have used two types of ground-fired cluster munitions:
- The 300mm 9M55K-series Smerch (“Tornado”) cluster munition rocket, which has a minimum range of 20 kilometers and a maximum range of 70 kilometers, and delivers 72 9N235 submunitions.
- The 220mm 9M27K-series Uragan (“Hurricane”) cluster munition rocket, which has a range of 10–35 kilometers and delivers 30 9N235 submunitions or 30 9N210 submunitions.
The Smerch and Uragan cluster munition rockets are fired from dedicated launch tubes mounted on eight-wheeled vehicles. The 9N210 and 9N235 fragmentation submunitions are designed to self-destruct a minute or two after being ejected from the rocket.
As the following list shows, cluster munitions were used in dozens of urban and rural locations of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in the period from July 2014 until the February 2015 ceasefire, with some places hit multiple times.
Cluster munition rockets were used in attacks on Donetsk City and at least seven towns and villages throughout Donetsk province:
- Artemivsk: Smerch cluster munition rockets were used in a 13 February 2015 attack on the northeast part of the town that killed a woman and an 8-year-old boy.
- Donetsk City: At least six Uragan cluster munition rockets hit the center of the city on 2 and 5 October 2014, killing one person and injuring at least two.
- Hrodivka: Smerch cluster munition rockets used in a 10 February 2015 attack wounded eight people (five civilians and three soldiers).
- Ilovaisk: At least three Uragan cluster munition rockets hit the northwest part of the town between 25 and 29 August 2014.
- Komsomolske: Multiple Uragan rockets hit this village between 2–7 February 2015, killing a 42-year-old man and his 10-year-old son on 7 February. A local resident said cluster munitions were also used in a 2 December 2014 attack on the village, which, killed a 33-year-old woman.
- Kramatorsk: Photographs taken by the Associated Press on 11 July 2014 at a former separatist base seized back by Ukrainian government forces in early July near the town of Slavyansk, showed that at least eight Uragan cluster munition rockets were used in the fighting. Smerch cluster munition rockets were used in a 10 February 2015 attack on at least two residential areas that a Ukrainian government spokesperson said killed 5 civilians and 12 Ukrainian soldiers, and wounded 34.
- Makiievka: Uragan cluster munition rockets hit at least three sites in this rebel-controlled town east of Donetsk, killing two people near the town’s train station on 19–20 August.
- Slavyansk: Photographs taken in July 2015 of a display of remnants of war from the conflict show the remnants of at least six Uragan cluster munition rockets, but it is unclear if they were used in Slavyansk or another location.
- Starobesheve: At least six Uragan cluster munition rockets hit this town southeast of Donetsk on 6–7 February 2015, killing a 46-year-old man. A Smerch cluster munition rocket attack on 24 August 2014 killed three civilians and injured 17.
Cluster munition rockets have been used in attacks on Luhansk City and at least two towns in Luhansk province:
- Luhansk City: Smerch cluster munition rockets were used in a 27 January 2015 attack on residential areas of Artemivsk district in the west of the city that killed two civilians. More cluster munition attacks were recorded between 24 January and 11 February, while the remnants of 23 Smerch cluster munition rockets including 17 unexploded submunitions were found in the city in January–February 2015 and destroyed.
- Novosvitlivka: At least six Smerch rockets and two Uragan rockets were used in attacks on this village south of Luhansk City in mid-August 2014. More than 100 villagers were killed in the fighting, but local hospital staff said it was not possible to attribute casualties to a specific weapon.
- Stakhanov: Smerch cluster munition rockets were used in a 23 January 2015 attack on the center of this rebel-controlled town west of Luhansk, injuring three civilians. By February 2015, remnants of more than 30 Smerch cluster munition rockets and a few Uragan cluster munition rockets had been collected and destroyed from Stakhanov and surrounding towns.
Many of the rockets and submunitions used appear to fall under the category of “inaccurate and unreliable” cluster munitions that Ukraine has expressed concern about in the past as their remnants pose a long-term threat unless cleared and destroyed. Human Rights Watch and international media such as The New York Times recorded numerous unexploded submunitions, indicating a significant number may have failed to self-destruct as intended. They also documented several Smerch and Uragan cluster munition rockets that malfunctioned shortly after launch and still contained their full payload of submunitions.
There is no evidence indicating that cluster munitions have been used elsewhere in Ukraine, for example, in Crimea.
Response to cluster munition use
As of July 2015, neither party to the conflict has taken responsibility for the use of cluster munitions in 2014 and 2015. Since October 2014, Ukraine has consistently denied its use of cluster munitions.
At an October 2014 meeting of the OSCE’s Permanent Council, Ukraine denied using cluster munitions and blamed the attacks on pro-Russian separatist groups. In The New York Times, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin, said the cluster munition use had not been confirmed, but acknowledged the “serious accusations…deserve the deepest investigation.” A spokesperson for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council told media, “Ukrainian troops didn’t use any kind of weapons banned by international treaties. This includes use of cluster bombs.” At the Convention on Conventional Weapons in November 2014, Ukraine again denied using cluster munitions. In February 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said, “It is savages who use cluster munitions against civilians.”
Russia has repeatedly drawn attention to Ukraine’s use of cluster munitions, but has not itself acknowledged or taken any responsibility for cluster munition rocket attacks by the separatist rebels backed by Russia.
The cluster munition rocket attacks in Ukraine have attracted widespread media coverage, public outcry, and condemnations from at least 32 states and the European Union. Between September 2014 and June 2015, countries issued statements and used the Convention on Cluster Munitions and other fora to express concern at the cluster munition use in Ukraine:
- At the Convention on Cluster Munition’s Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2014, 21 states and the European Union expressed concern at/or condemned the reported use of cluster munitions in Ukraine.
- At a UN Security Council debate on Ukraine on 24 October 2014, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović described the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine as “alarming” and noted the government’s denial, but said it is imperative reports are investigated promptly. Of the Council’s 15 member states, 11 expressed concern at the reported use of cluster munitions in Ukraine and most called for an investigation. Ukraine denied its armed forces used cluster munitions, but said it was ready for an open and transparent investigation.
- At the UNGA First Committee in October 2014, the Convention on Cluster Munition’s president Costa Rica condemned the use of cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine and held a side event briefing on the matter with the CMC, which was attended by representatives from more than two-dozen states.
- At the Convention on Conventional Weapons meeting in Geneva in November 2014, the US expressed concern at “disturbing reports” of new use of cluster munitions and attended a side event briefing by Human Rights Watch on the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine, along with a number of other states.
- At Convention on Cluster Munitions meetings in Geneva in June 2015, two-dozen states condemned recent use of cluster munitions, of which 12 referred to the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine.
States have also used meetings of the OSCE’s Permanent Council in Vienna to express concern at the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine. Russia was the first state to draw OSCE attention to the matter in July 2014, when its representative said that “reports regarding the use of cluster munitions…should be verified.” At an OSCE meeting on 29 October 2014, the US and the European Union expressed concern at reports of cluster munition use and requested an investigation, while Ukraine denied the use, but committed to investigate. Russia also asked the OSCE mission to collect information and report on the use of prohibited cluster munitions.
In 2015, states responded to the OSCE mission’s reports detailing cluster munition rocket attacks. Russia welcomed the mission’s “detailed analysis” of the use of cluster munitions. Norway expressed “grave concern” at a mission report detailing a 27 January cluster munition rocket attack and called on parties “to adhere to the norm” established by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. At two OSCE meetings in February 2015, the European Union (EU) expressed great concern at the mission’s “reports of attacks on residential areas with indications of use of cluster munitions” and called upon all parties to “refrain from the use of…cluster munitions.”
Since becoming president of the Fifth Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in September 2014, Costa Rica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Manuel González Sanz, has condemned the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine several times and encouraged all states to do the same, as well as to encourage Ukraine and other non-signatories to join the convention.
A November 2014 report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern at the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine and urged the reports of use “be investigated promptly and thoroughly.”
The CMC has undertaken a number of actions to respond to the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine, including through letters and meetings, media work, engaging national campaigns, and cooperation with Convention on Cluster Munitions States Parties.
During meetings in Kiev on 2–3 December 2014, high-level Ukraine government officials informed Human Rights Watch representatives its investigation had found no evidence of the use of cluster munitions by members of the Ukrainian armed forces. The military prosecutor said his office conducted an inventory of Ukraine’s stocks of prohibited weapons and found no prohibited weapons had been moved and the total number remained the same, leading it to conclude that government forces had not used cluster munitions. However, it appears the investigation looked at antipersonnel landmine stocks, which Ukraine views as prohibited weapons under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Human Rights Watch encouraged Ukraine to review its use of Smerch and Uragan cluster munition rockets containing 9N210 and 9N235 submunitions.
Production and transfer
Ukraine is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions. In November 2010, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that Ukraine was not producing new cluster munitions, and would not export or import the weapons from any other country.
Stockpiling and destruction
Ukraine inherited a large stockpile of cluster munitions from the break-up of the Soviet Union. During a CCW meeting on cluster munitions in April 2011, Ukraine provided information on the types of its stockpiled cluster munitions.
Cluster Munitions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Cluster Munition Name
220mm Uragan 9M27K
300mm Smerch 9M55K
KMGU containing BFK-AO2.5, BFK-ODC, BFK-PTAB, BFK-AP cartridges of submunitions
Ukraine stated that cluster munitions constitute 35% of its stockpile of conventional weapons, totaling two million tons of ammunition. Of these cluster munitions, 34% were produced before 1980. Another 36.18% were produced between 1981 and 1992 and “are planned to be stockpiled and might be used.” The remaining 29.82% contain antivehicle landmines.
Ukraine has reported the destruction of an average of 10,000–20,000 tons of cluster munitions annually. It has concluded that it could take 60 years to destroy the stockpiles that are currently slated for destruction.
 Letter No. 4132/36-196-771 from Amb. Yuriy A. Sergeyev, Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN in Geneva, 23 April 2012; and Letter No. 181/017 from the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN in Geneva, 29 April 2010.
 Statement of Ukraine, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, 8 April 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.
 Letter No. 181/017 from the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN in Geneva, 29 April 2010. It first called for such a moratorium in April 2008; and statement of Ukraine, CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, 8 April 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.
 In 2010, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that Ukraine’s “negative experience” with respect to securing international funding for the destruction of its antipersonnel mine stockpiles under the Mine Ban Treaty influences how it views the Convention on Cluster Munitions. According to the official, once Ukraine has fulfilled its Mine Ban Treaty obligations, it will consider accession to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. CMC meeting with Ruslan Nimchynskyi, Deputy Director-General, Directorate General for Armaments Control and Military Technical Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Vientiane, 11 November 2010. Notes by the CMC.
 Letter No. 4132/36-196-771 from Amb. Sergeyev, Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN in Geneva, 23 April 2012.
 For details on Ukraine’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 249–250.
 “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 69/189, 18 December 2014. Ukraine voted in favor of a similar UNGA resolution on 18 December 2013.
 CMC meeting with Ruslan Nimchynskyi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Vientiane, 11 November 2010. Notes by the CMC.
 For an overview of the methodology used by the organization to confirm the use of cluster munitions please see the methodology section in this publication: Human Rights Watch, “Technical Briefing Note: Cluster Munition Use in Ukraine,” June 2015.
 The submunitions are identical in size, shape, and color. The only way to distinguish between them is by the size of the pre-formed fragments they contain.
 Unless noted, these incidents were all recorded by Human Rights Watch. The list of cluster munition rocket attacks does not aim to provide a comprehensive record of every instance of cluster munition use in eastern Ukraine, but is provided for illustrative purposes. See: “Ukraine: Widespread Use of Cluster Munitions,” Human Rights Watch News Release, 20 October 2014;and “Ukraine: More Civilians Killed in Cluster Munition Attacks,” Human Rights Watch News Release, 19 March 2015.
 Oksana Grytsenko, “Ukrainian government denies allegations of war crimes, use of cluster bombs,” Kiev Post, 21 October 2014.
 Statement of Ukraine, Convention on Conventional Weapons Protocol IV Meeting, Geneva, 12 November 2014. Notes by the CMC.
 “Ukraine: More Civilians Killed in Cluster Munition Attacks,” YouTube.com, 18 March 2015. See also: Ole Solvang, “Dispatches: Only ‘Savages’ Use Cluster Munitions,” Human Rights Watch, 13 February 2015.
 Some of these states have condemned the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine on several occasions: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Burundi, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mauritania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, Somalia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.
 Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Slovenia, Somalia, and Switzerland. “General exchange of views,” Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, Costa Rica, 2–5 September 2015. See also, Convention on Cluster Munitions, “Fifth Meeting of States Parties,” undated.
 Argentina, Australia, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Russia, Rwanda, the UK, and the US. Provisional report of the 7287th meeting of the UN Security Council, S/PV.7287, 24 October 2014, p. 21.
 UN Statement, “As Death Toll Surpasses 3,700, Assistant Secretary-General Tells Security Council Faster Action Needed to End Violence, Tensions in Eastern Ukraine,” SC/11614, 24 October 2014.
 Statement of Costa Rica, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 22 October 2014. The side event briefing by the CMC and Costa Rica entitled “Ending use of cluster munitions: the urgency of the global ban,” took place at the UN in New York on 17 October 2014.
 Austria, Belgium, Burundi, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross. Germany expressed concern at reported cluster munition use in “eastern Europe.” Notes by the CMC and Monitor.
 Statement of US, Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 29 October 2014.; and statement of Italy as President of the European Union, Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 29 October 2014.
 Statement of Costa Rica, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, September 2014; and “Costa Rica condena supuesto uso de municiones en racimo en Ucrania,” EFE, 23 October 2014.
 The prosecutor informed Human Rights Watch that it checked stocks of a list of banned weapons, including 9M27K3 rockets with PFM-1S antipersonnel mines. The 9M27K3 rockets carry landmines, while 9M27K1 rockets documented by Human Rights Watch, OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, and others are cluster munition rockets containing with 9N210 submunitions. The rockets may have similar names (9M27K3 and 9M27K1), but are different weapons that are prohibited by different international treaties. Human Rights Watch, “Ukraine: Attacks Require Better Investigation,” 18 December 2014; and letter from Human Rights Watch, to Anatoly Vasilievich Matios, Military Prosecutor, 14 December 2014.
 CMC meeting with Ruslan Nimchynskyi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Vientiane, 11 November 2010. Notes by the CMC.
 Presentation of Ukraine, “Impact of the CCW Draft Protocol VI (current version) on Ukraine’s Defense Capability,” Geneva, 1 April 2011, Slides 3–4.
 Ibid., Slide 2.