In a recent and alarming escalation of the conflict, Ukrainian forces reportedly launched cluster munitions into Donetsk city, causing damage and civilian casualties. According to reports, the attack involved four rounds of 155mm cluster bombs, which hit various civilian targets including a private residence, Donetsk University of Economics and Trade, and apartment buildings in the city center on Saturday night.
The Joint Center of Control and Coordination (JCCC) for the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) confirmed that the cluster munitions allegedly exploded in the air, leading to fires in three districts. The Mayor of Donetsk, Aleksey Kulemzin, expressed concern about the impact of the attack, stating that the explosions resulted in damages to civilian infrastructure and injuries to innocent civilians.
This incident is not an isolated event, as the region has witnessed a series of violent attacks. Just a few days before the reported cluster munitions strike, a Ukrainian bombardment on Monday claimed the lives of at least three people and left ten others injured. Additionally, a civilian was killed in a nearby town, adding to the mounting toll of civilian casualties.
Cluster munitions have long been a contentious issue, with over 100 countries banning their use due to their indiscriminate and harmful impact on civilians. These munitions are designed to disperse submunitions over a wide area, which poses grave risks from unexploded ordnance long after the conflict ends. The use of such weapons in populated areas inevitably leads to civilian harm and is considered by many to be a violation of international humanitarian law.
The attacks on Donetsk and other cities in the Donbas region have been ongoing since 2014, following the region's declaration of independence from Kiev after a Western-backed coup in the Ukrainian capital.
In a controversial move, the Donetsk People's Republic, along with the People's Republic of Lugansk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson Regions, were annexed by Russia in October of last year following referendums where the local populations reportedly voted overwhelmingly in favor of the annexation.