Estonia still hasn't sent Ukraine its cluster munitions

Members of the EDF prepping shells.
Members of the EDF prepping shells. Source: Headquarters of the EDF/

While according to ERR's information, Estonia was weighing giving cluster munitions in its stocks to Ukraine in January already, unlike the U.S., it has yet to actually follow through.

"The Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) arms and equipment include cluster munitions for 155 mm howitzers, as these are an extremely effective tool against enemy vehicle and armored columns and assembly areas in particular," Ministry of Defense media adviser Andra Nõlvak told ERR on Monday.

"Regarding the donation of cluster munitions to Ukraine, for obvious reasons, Estonia will communicate the details of aid provided to Ukraine once the corresponding donations and deliveries have taken place," Nõlvak added.

The ministry official added that the size of the EDF's ammunition stocks, including quantities of cluster munitions, are state secrets, i.e. classified information.

ERR reported in January already that Estonia is considering including 155 mm cluster munition projectiles among its military aid to Ukraine.

Isamaa chair Urmas Reinsalu raised the issue again last week when, during a foreign policy debate in the Riigikogu on Thursday, he called on Estonia to hurry up with its donation of cluster munitions to Ukraine.

"I nonetheless call on us to advocate for seeking authorization from Germany to give the German-manufactured cluster munitions to Ukraine," Reinsalu said. "Why haven't we yet applied for this authorization, is my question. This ammunition must go to Ukraine. The efficacy of cluster munitions — I applaud the U.S.' decision from this summer — has without a doubt proven itself in the offensive."

The Defense Ministry spokesperson declined to reply directly to ERR's questions regarding whether Estonia is working toward giving cluster munitions to Ukraine, what the term for providing them depends on and whether Estonia has already contacted Germany on the matter.

A cluster munition is a type of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive device that releases or ejects a certain amount of smaller submunitions before reaching its destination. Their use is broadly condemned as not all of the ordnance contained in a cluster munition may detonate in a combat situation, and thus could later endanger the lives of civilians.

The U.S. announced in July that it would be providing Ukraine with artillery-launched cluster munitions; earlier this month, it was reported that the Biden administration is considering providing them with cluster munition-armed missiles."

Since 2008, a total of 108 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits all use, transfer and production of cluster munitions.

Of EU member states, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Finland have not joined the convention. Germany, meanwhile, joined the convention at the earliest possible opportunity and destroyed nearly half a million projectiles, bombs and missiles within just a few years' time.

Whether this could prove to be an obstacle when Estonia seeks Germany's permission to send cluster munitions to Ukraine is difficult to say.

According to Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform), Estonia has told its allies that it will only use cluster munitions to defend Estonia.  


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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