I’ve seen the barbarism of cluster bombs up close. This is how dangerous they can be

Valentina Demchenka described the noise as like firecrackers going off repeatedly – a very different sound to the deep blasts from Russian shells that had been killing residents and shattering buildings in the Industrialnyi neighbourhood of Kharkiv for the previous week.

During a lull in the attack, she ran out of her apartment building with her husband and two children. They almost made it to the family car when there was a further series of explosions. She looked around – and that’s when she got hit by the shrapnel that took out her left eye.

The munition being used by the Russians at that time – early in the invasion, in 2022 – was 9N210/9N235 cluster bombs, according to analysis by weapons experts and Amnesty International. They were anti-personnel submunition: chopped-steel shards that sprayed out in timed detonation over a wide arc.


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