What are cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons?

  • GS Paper 3: Disaster management.


  • In Ukraine, Russia has resorted to the deployment of potentially lethal thermobaric bombs, sometimes known as vacuum bombs.
  • Cluster munitions were outlawed by the 2008 Agreement on Cluster Munitions; however, neither Ukraine nor Russia were parties to the convention at the time of its signing in 2008.

Weapons that use thermobaric energy:

  • These are referred to as vacuum bombs because they draw oxygen from the surrounding environment and use it to produce high-voltage explosions.
  • The explosion wave has a higher strength and length than ordinary bombs, and it has the potential to completely destroy mankind.
  • While they cannot be used to demolish tanks or other military vehicles, they may be used to demolish civilian structures such as residential or business complexes and other similar structures.
  • Cluster bombs are a type of explosive device.
  • Crop-killing weapons, such as cluster bombs, are non-precision weapons that are meant to damage or kill human people indiscriminately across a vast area while also destroying vehicles and infrastructure including runways, railways, and electricity transmission lines.
  • They can be dropped from an aeroplane or launched in a projectile that spins while in flight, dispersing a large number of bomblets as it passes through the air.
  • Many of these bomblets do not explode and instead remain on the ground, frequently partially or completely concealed and impossible to identify and remove, posing a hazard to the civilian population for a lengthy period of time after the conflict has stopped, according to the United Nations.

Aspects of the Convention on Cluster Munitions that have been ratified include:

  • It is an international convention that outlaws the use, transfer, manufacturing, and stockpiling of cluster bombs, which are a form of explosive weapon that disperses submunitions (also known as bomblets) across a large geographical region.
  • In addition, the Convention sets a framework to support victim aid, cleanup of contaminated locations, risk reduction education, and stockpile removal, among other activities.
  • The treaty was ratified on May 30, 2008, in Dublin, Ireland.
  • As of now, there are 110 states that have ratified the convention, while another 13 nations have signed but have not yet ratified the treaty.

2)  Montreux Convention

  • GS Paper – 2 Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests, Bilateral Groupings & Agreements.

Why is it in the news?

  • Turkey intends to use the Montreux Convention in reaction to Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine conflict.
  • The statement that the situation in Ukraine has deteriorated to the point of war permits Turkey to use the Montreux Convention and prohibit Russian warships from accessing the Black Sea through the straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.

What is the geographical location of the Straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles?

  • Aegean sea and Black Sea are connected by the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, which are sometimes known as the Turkish Straits or the Black Sea Straits. They connect the Aegean and Black seas via the Sea of Marmara.
  • It is the sole route via which the Black Sea ports may reach the Mediterranean and other reaches of the world.
  • Every day, this canal transports more than three million barrels of oil, equivalent to approximately 3 percent of the world’s daily supply, which is mostly produced in Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.
  • From the Black Sea coast, the route also transports enormous quantities of iron, steel, and agricultural products to Europe and the rest of the globe.

What is the Montreux Convention, and why is it important?

  • From Australia to Bulgaria to France, Greece to Japan to Romania to Yugoslavia to the United Kingdom to the Soviet Union to the Turkish Republic, the international agreement has been in place since November 1936 and was signed by the countries listed above.
  • The Montreux Convention on the Regime of the Straits grants Turkey jurisdiction over the sea passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula, serves as a significant naval station for the Russian Navy.
  • Under the Montreux Convention, ships moving between the Mediterranean and the rest of the world are required to transit through two straits controlled by Turkey in order to get there and back.
  • Passage across the Dardanelles and the Bosporus straits by commercial vessels and military warships is restricted under the agreement. The Montreux Convention has the following essential elements:
  • Should war break out, the accord grants Turkey the authority to govern the movement of naval warships and to close the straits to warships belonging to the nations participating in the fight under certain conditions.
  • If a country with a coastline on the Black Sea – such as Romania or Bulgaria or Georgia or Russia or Ukraine – intends to send warships through the straits, that country must inform Turkey eight days in advance.
  • Other nations, especially those that do not border the Black Sea, are required to give Turkey 15 days’ notice before travelling to Turkey.
  • Turkey has made advantage of the convention’s authority in the past. Turkish naval forces stopped the Axis countries from deploying vessels to attack the Soviet Union during World Conflict II, while the Soviet fleet was prevented by Turkish naval forces from taking part in battle in the Mediterranean during the war.

Was Turkey a factor in the current crisis and what was its role?

  • The Turkish government finds itself in a difficult position in the current scenario, because both Ukraine and Russia are major partners in crucial energy and military trade deals.
  • Turkey, which has been a member of NATO since 1952, seeks to expand its relations with the West while remaining diplomatically neutral with Russia. Its ability to maintain control over these critical straits may put its balancing act to the test.
  • The Turkish government has argued that it cannot exclude all Russian vessels from entering the Black Sea because of a clause in the accord that exempts ships returning to their registered base from being barred entry.
  • There is an exemption in Article 19 of the treaty for nations on the Black Sea that might effectively impair Turkey’s ability to prevent Russian vessels from entering or departing the Black Sea.
  • It is permissible for warships belonging to belligerent nations, whether or not they are Black Sea Powers, to return to their home ports if they have gotten separated from their home ports.
  • Russian boats would be sent to the Black Sea under this exemption, which would allow the country to take use of the Montreux Convention in a different way than it otherwise would have.


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