Landmines in Ukraine

Russian landmines placed during Ukraine's advance in the 2022 Ukrainian southern counteroffensive reading "from a pure heart" and "with love from Russia".

Ukraine globally ranks as one of the states with the highest civilian casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnances, and the highest for anti-vehicle mine incidents.[1] As of April 2023, it is estimated that approximately 174,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory are contaminated by landmines.[2] Many types of landmines have been found in use in Ukraine, including novel variants.[3] Though landmines have been in use since 2014 in Ukraine during the War in Donbas (2014–2022), their use was relatively sporadic until the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[3] According to Human Rights Watch, both Russian and Ukrainian government forces have utilized antipersonnel and anti-vehicle mines.[4][5][6]

Background

On 24 February 1999, Ukraine became a signatory of the Ottawa Treaty, which prohibits the use of all types of victim-activated explosive devices.[4] Conversely, Russia and the United States are not signatories of this agreement.[7]

On 20 February 2014, Russia government forces invaded and annexed the Crimean peninsula, formally annexing the territory in March 2014. In April 2014, fighting broke out between Russian-backed separatist forces and Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.

On 24 February 2022, Russia initiated a currently-ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in which both antipersonnel and anti-vehicle landmines have been utilized.

Use of mines

As of January 2023, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine estimates that around 30% of Ukrainian territory may be contaminated by landmines.[8] However, other sources estimate this figure as high as 40%.[9]

Russian forces have allegedly engaged in booby-trapping strategic positions from which they have retreated using landmines and other unexploded ordnance.[10] There have been a significant amount of civilian casualties as a result.[10] Ukrainian forces allegedly used a rocket-delivered antipersonnel mine in summer 2022, in violation of the Ottawa Treaty. Human Rights Watch traced back handwritten messages on unexploded ordnance to Ukrainian organizations which offered to inscribe “death wishes” on explosives to raise funds for the war effort.[11]

Landmines reported in-use in Ukraine since 2014[5][12]
Category Designation Origin Type Initiation
Antipersonnel MOB Russia Fragmentation Multiple options
MON-50 Russia/USSR Fragmentation Tripwire/command
MON-90 Russia/USSR Fragmentation Tripwire/command
MON-100 Russia/USSR Fragmentation Tripwire/command
MON-200 Russia/USSR Fragmentation Tripwire/command
OZM-72 Russia/USSR Fragmentation Tripwire/command
PFM-1/PFM-1S USSR Blast Pressure/self-destruct
PMN-2 Russia/USSR Blast Pressure
PMN-4 Russia Blast Pressure
POM-2/POM-2R Russia/USSR Fragmentation Tripwire/self-destruct
POM-3 Russia Fragmentation Seismic
Anti-vehicle TM-62M Russia/USSR Blast Pressure
PTM1-G Russia/USSR Blast Tripwire/self-destruct
Anti-landing PDM-1 Russia/USSR Blast Tilt-rod

Casualties

From 2014 to 2020, there were 1,190 mine-related casualties in Ukraine.[3]

According to the United Nations, from the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 to July 2023, 298 civilians, 22 of them children, have been killed due to unexploded ordnance, and there have been 632 civilian injuries. HALO Trust estimates that civilian casualties are vastly underreported.[13]

Socioeconomic effects

Ukraine is one of the world's top agricultural producers.[14] More than 55% of Ukraine's land is arable, and as of April 2022, provided employment for 14% of Ukraine's population.[14] Due to the proliferation of mines and other unexploded ordnance in agricultural areas, Ukraine's agricultural sector has suffered more than $6.6 billion in damages.[15][3][9][16] In some contaminated regions like Kherson, farmers have resorted to picking out unexploded shells by sight, and using armored and remote-operated tractors as well as domestic animals to demine their fields.[17] Ukrainian officials estimate that as of March 2023, up to one-third of all arable land (approximately 10 million hectares) in areas of hostility are mined.[15][18]

Demining efforts

As of July 2023, The World Bank estimates that fully demining affected Ukrainian territory will cost upwards of $37 billion.[19]

One of the key issues hindering demining efforts is the lack of qualified bomb disposal specialists and operators.[20] Training generally lasts 4 months, and company certification 3 months.[20] Additionally, there are only two certification bodies in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.[20] Additionally, the training of such specialists can be cost prohibitive, with the approximate cost of training a group of explosive specialists being approximately $100,000-$150,000 as of May 2023.[20]

References

  1. ^ "Eastern Ukraine one of the areas most contaminated by landmines in the world". United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2019-04-04. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
  2. ^ "Ukraine war: The deadly landmines killing hundreds". BBC News. 2023-04-11. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  3. ^ a b c d "Ukraine war: How hidden landmines, tripwires and booby traps pose lethal danger for years to come". Sky News. Retrieved 2023-07-19.
  4. ^ a b "Background Briefing on Landmine Use in Ukraine". Human Rights Watch. 2022-06-15. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  5. ^ a b "Landmine Use in Ukraine". Human Rights Watch. 2023-06-13. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  6. ^ "New HRW Report on Landmine Use in Ukraine". International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  7. ^ "Russian mines in Ukraine 'greatest challenge' to landmark ban treaty". France24. 2022-11-17. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  8. ^ "Ukrainian bomb-sniffing dog teaches children mine safety". UNICEF. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  9. ^ a b "Ukraine Has Largest Minefield In The World, Prime Minister Says". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2023-07-19.
  10. ^ a b Wordsworth, Rich. "Russia Has Turned Eastern Ukraine Into a Giant Minefield". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2023-07-19.
  11. ^ Sampson, Eve; Granados, Samuel (2023-06-30). "Evidence mounts for use of banned mines by Ukrainian forces, rights group says". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-09-28.
  12. ^ "Landmines in Ukraine: Technical Briefing Note" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. April 2015. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  13. ^ "Ukraine is now the most mined country. It will take decades to make safe". Washington Post. 2023-07-22. Retrieved 2023-09-28.
  14. ^ a b "Ukraine Agricultural Production and Trade" (PDF). U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service. April 2022. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  15. ^ a b Nickel, Rod; Polityuk, Pavel (2023-03-08). "Analysis: Facing minefields and cash crunch, Ukraine farmers to sow smaller crop". Reuters. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  16. ^ "Agricultural War Damages Review" (PDF). Kyiv School of Economics. 2022.
  17. ^ Hrabchuk, Kamila; Galouchka, Anastacia; Martins, Alice (May 28, 2023). "In fields seeded with mines, Ukraine's farmers face deadly planting season". The Washington Post.
  18. ^ Booth, Tom; Wright, Rebecca; Watson, Ivan; Konovalova, Olha (2023-03-27). "Clearing land mines by hand, farmers in Ukraine risk their lives for planting season". CNN. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  19. ^ "Demining Ukraine: Bringing lifesaving expertise back home". UN News. 2023-07-08. Retrieved 2023-07-19.
  20. ^ a b c d "Demining in Ukraine". Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. 2023-05-15. Retrieved 2023-07-19.
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