VLADIMIR Putin vowed to use an “adequate stockpile” of cluster bombs “if necessary” in a dramatic message to the West today.
Ukraine received controversial bombs last Thursday – less than a week after the US said it would provide weapons to help fight Russia.
The weapons – which can release large numbers of small bombs over a large area – are highly restricted because unexploded “bombs” can remain on the ground, detonating years later on civilians.
Kyiv it said it would use the weapons to bomb enemy forces as it tries to retake territory in Ukraine – but said it would not use them on Russian territory.
Putin told state TV that Moscow would respond if necessary.
He said: “I want to realize that in Russia there is a sufficient amount of bombs of all kinds.”
“We have not used them yet. But if they are used against us, we have the right to retaliate.”
Putin said he considers the use of cluster bombs a crime – and that Russia has not yet had to use them.
Human Rights Watch says both Moscow and Kyiv have used weapons of mass destruction in the war – which has been going on for more than a year.
Russia, Ukraine and other countries US they have not signed up to the Convention on Cluster Munitions – which prohibits the production, stockpiling, use and transfer of weapons.
The White House He had previously stopped sending bombs to Kyiv for fear of harming innocent people.
But the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan he said it was “necessary” because of the use of Russian weapons.
He also said: “Ukraine would not use these weapons in other countries.
“This is their country they are going to defend.”
The The US announced on July 7 that it will send weapons to Ukraine.
Human rights groups have urged Ukraine not to use cluster bombs – and the US not to supply them.
The United Nations The High Commissioner for Human Rights said: “Army weapons scatter small bombs over a large area, most of which fail to detonate immediately.
They can kill and maim many years later. This is why the use should stop immediately. “
Russia used bombs early in the war, killing 47 and destroying the school.
Terrified mothers and children were forced to hide in the basement of a hospital in the Zhytomyr region.
A harrowing video shot later showed bodies strewn across the streets in the war-hit area.
Windows were smashed in the blast, while burnt-out cars were scattered across the street in the wake of the strike.
The deployment of lethal weapons to Ukraine comes as Russia is facing turmoil in the top ranks of its military.
Unpleasant pictures were revealed yesterday where a a Russian naval commander was killed while on a mission.
Many believe that Putin’s purge has begun after the disappearance of three of his top advisers.