Footage of Ukrainian military kicking anti-tank landmines
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The most optimistic projections found that Ukraine will take years to clear its entire territory of mines and unexploded ordnance. Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Meri Akopyan estimated that roughly 300,000 square kilometres of territory have been contaminated with explosive devices. Speaking in televised statements reported by the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency, Ms Akopyan said that almost 114,000 explosives have been deactivated since the start of the invasion.
The figure includes 2,000 aerial bombs.
She said: “We now estimate that some 300,000 square kilometres of territory are contaminated.
“If we assume that one day of active fighting is equivalent to 30 days of demining, according to the most optimistic forecasts, we will need five to seven years for total demining.”
The minister added that foreign teams are already in Ukraine to help with the difficult process.
They will begin next week.
She added that an international humanitarian demining centre has been set up with the aim, among others, of attracting international professional, technical and financial assistance.
She said almost 20 foreign organisations have already responded to the call for help, and are in the process of being certified to work in Ukraine.
The type of land mines designed to kill people, known as anti-personnel land mines, have been outlawed by most countries.
The Ottawa Convention, banning their use, has been signed by more than 160 countries, including the UK – although not including Russia, the US and China.
Anti-vehicle mines are not considered illegal, however.
However, US officials and military analysts have claimed Russia has been using anti-personnel mines.
Human Rights Watch claimed that such mines were found by Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal technicians on March 28.
These landmines can indiscriminately kill and injure people within a 16-metre range.
Ukraine reportedly does not have possession of these mines.
Arms director of Human Rights Watch Steve Goose said: “These weapons do not differentiate between combatants and civilians and leave a deadly legacy for years to come.”
Political science professor at James Madison University, an expert in mines and himself a survivor of one, warned of the precedent that Russia’s cruel use of these weapons sets for future conflicts.
He said: “This is going to legitimize the use of land mines, if militaries see that they’re effective.
“What we’re seeing now is the unleashing of moral restrictions … because these are professional armies, not ISIS.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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