Ukraine is starting a big awareness campaign
The Ukrainian government launched an awareness campaign on the threat of anti-personnel mines based on a video posted on the Internet on Thursday. A week ago, the Ukrainian executive estimated the mined territory of the Russian occupier at “250,000 km2”, larger than the UK.
Through attacks, retreats and invasions, the Russian occupier has encircled large swathes of Ukrainian territory, leaving behind an arsenal of anti-personnel mines. The practice, which is condemned by international law and poses a great threat to the population, is all the more acute because it promises to continue for several decades.
In response, the Ukrainian government released a video on social media on Thursday to inform citizens of the threat.
“The Rule of Three Nos”
We see a pedestrian walking through the forest and warning of a mine. Keeping his composure, he carefully walks away and dials the demining number: 101. “Stay away! Don’t touch! Don’t panic! The three ‘Nos’ rule is the main message,” he sums up the tweet, accompanied by an illustration.
250,000 km2 were exposed to Russian mines
This educational film, released online by Ukraine’s Emergencies Ministry, directly echoes Prime Minister Denis Chmykhal’s comments to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency last Saturday. He described his country as “the world’s biggest minefield”.
“It is currently the largest minefield in the world. It not only makes it difficult for people to move around, but also causes great damage to our main industry, agriculture,” he said.
The head of the Ukrainian government even provided more accurate estimates of the trapped area: 250,000 km2, the entire surface of the Korean peninsula (221,000 km2 according to Yonhap), Romania (238,000 km2), and even Great Britain (244,000 km2).
Demining is expected for “at least 50 years”.
The local population will not soon escape such pollution by these death machines. Quoted here The world, Perrine Benoist, director of Armed Violence Reduction for Handicap International, already told AFP in April that the expected demining period in Ukraine was “at least 50 years”. “We’re still demining in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam fifty or sixty years later,” he said.
A finding referring to this explanation given to BFMTV.com a few days ago by Frédéric Joly, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in France: “The mining is done en masse, the demining, it’s mine. By me.”
The same article brings up again the dark agenda revealed by Denis Marchuk, vice-president of the Agrarian Council of Ukraine: “One day of war leads to month-long demining in certain areas.” The challenge is even greater because when hostilities began in 2014, Ukraine had not yet recovered from the mines laid by the separatists.
26.5 million Russian mines
The 11-month war since the Russian invasion on February 24 has therefore exacerbated an already uneasy situation. If Ukraine is hopelessly gangrenous today, it is because of Russian cynicism and firepower in this area, according to a Mine Observatory report published last November and stripped here. The world.
On the one hand, the document assures that the Russians have so far used seven models of anti-personnel mines against the people they attacked – six fragmentation and one explosive. On the other hand, the Landmine Observatory notes that with 26.5 million mines, Russia has the largest stockpile in the world.
Help from the international community
These numbers give a particularly dramatic resonance to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s appeals to the international community for help in the newly launched demining battle.
His partners are aware of the issues. Back in August, the Americans promised to pay $89 million to help their allies fight this threat. On December 30, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace promised to provide 1,000 metal detectors and 100 anti-explosion kits for this purpose.
As numerous as these deliveries are, their senders will undoubtedly need to update them, given the size of the ground to be covered and the length of the conflict, which does not seem ready to end.
Meanwhile, the ripple effect of Russian landmines on the Ukrainian population is already devastating. According to the Landmine Monitor report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 277 Ukrainian civilian casualties between February 24 and mid-September 2022.