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Russia claims drones shot down over Crimea as Putin says Moscow has cluster bomb stockpile

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Russia claims to have repelled a drone attack in occupied Crimea while Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has a ‘sufficient stockpile’ of cluster bombs.

Moscow-installed authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea on Sunday reported “a massive and prolonged” drone attack overnight targeting Sevastopol, the peninsula’s largest port, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

According to Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhaev, air defence shot down ten drones. There were no reported casualties or damage.

In a statement, the Russian Defence Ministry said it shot down two drones with its anti-aircraft defence and disabled five others with jamming systems.

The ministry also claimed to have destroyed two Ukrainian army naval drones, which operate unmanned on the surface of the water.

Sevastopol is the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Since the start of the offensive against Ukraine in February 2022, Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, has been a regular target of air and naval drone attacks.

Putin says Russia has ‘sufficient stockpile’ of cluster bombs

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview on state television on Sunday that his country has a “sufficient stockpile” of cluster munitions, and he warned that Russia “reserves the right to take reciprocal action” if Ukraine uses the controversial weapons.

While Putin claimed Moscow has not used cluster bombs in its war in Ukraine so far,  the use by both Russia and Ukraine has been widely documented. 

The weapons use bombs that open in the air and release scores of smaller bomblets  They are seen by the US as a way to get Kyiv critically needed ammunition to help bolster its offensive and push through the Russian front lines. 

Cluster bombs have long been criticised by humanitarian groups, and some US allies. Those used in previous conflicts have had a high “dud rate,” meaning they often leave behind unexploded bomblets that can harm civilians long after a battle has ended.

Proponents argue that Russia has already been using cluster munitions in Ukraine and the weapons the US is providing have been improved to leave behind far fewer unexploded rounds. 

Ukraine has promised to use them only away from densely populated areas.

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