Russia dropping ‘dumb bombs’ on Ukrainian cities, says Pentagon, Amnesty

Dumb bombs are not precision-guided and thus have limited ability to accurately strike targets – leading to collateral damage.

 A photo shows damages to a building in Kharkiv's Constitution Square after shelling by Russian forces, March 2, 2022 (photo credit: SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)
A photo shows damages to a building in Kharkiv's Constitution Square after shelling by Russian forces, March 2, 2022
(photo credit: SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)

A senior US defense official told Reuters on Wednesday that the Pentagon believes Russia is using unguided munitions – colloquially known as “dumb bombs” – in their Ukrainian war efforts.

Dumb bombs are not precision-guided and thus have limited ability to strike targets with precision and accuracy – leading to collateral damage.

Washington has seen “increasing damage to civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties,” the US official said, noting however that it is unclear if the use of dumb bombs was due to damage to precision capabilities or if it was truly intentional.

Amnesty International corroborated the Pentagon's claims with their own Wednesday report, which highlighted the use of dumb bombs in a March 3 Russian airstrike that reportedly killed 47 civilians in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.

“The airstrike that hit the streets of Chernihiv shocks the conscience. This was a merciless, indiscriminate attack on people as they went about their daily business in their homes, streets and shops,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty's Crisis Response Director.

 A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by an aviation strike amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 9, 2022.  (credit: Press service of the National Police of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS) A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by an aviation strike amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 9, 2022. (credit: Press service of the National Police of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)

Use of unguided “dumb bombs” would lend credence to claims that Russia is not concerned about civilian casualties. On Wednesday, a Russian airstrike struck the children’s ward of a maternity hospital in what was the latest strike on civilian infrastructure. Among civilian areas Russian strikes have hit include residential buildings, evacuation routes, and even a cellphone tower near the Babyn-Yar Holocaust Memorial, which was damaged as a result of the strike.

“Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted after the hospital in Mariupol was struck. At least 17 were injured in the attack, which the White House called “barbaric.”

Amnesty International claims that verified content from another airstrike location in Ukraine shows an unguided FAB-500 M62 bomb being removed by civil defense forces. In addition, an official video released by the Russian military on March 6 shows the sortie launch of Su-34 Fullback aircraft loaded with eight such bombs, which Amnesty said was an indicator of the typical combat load in current Russian operations.

The United Nations has estimated that nearly 500 civilians have died and almost two million Ukrainians have been displaced since the invasion began on February 24.