According to reports, nearly a year and a half after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Ukraine has become the most heavily mined country in the world. According to a recent report by the Slovakian think-tank GLOBSEC, an area of over 173,500 square kilometers in Ukraine has experienced severe conflict and has been affected by unexploded ordnance, requiring time-consuming, costly and dangerous munitions clearance operations. And the recent supply of dud-dispersing cluster munitions to Ukraine by the West may make matters worse.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Rosemary Rosemary told the Security Council that one-third of Ukraine is littered with unexploded landmines and cluster bombs, disproportionately affecting children. Some experts estimate that under the current circumstances, if 500 demining teams are dispatched, it will take 757 years to complete the demining work throughout Ukraine.
The number of Ukrainian arms is “unprecedented” in the past 30 years, and the threat level exceeds that of Afghanistan and Syria
Landmines, unexploded ordnance and other deadly weapons have affected much of Ukraine during the nearly year-and-a-half conflict, turning the center of Ukraine into a dangerous wasteland. Ordnance experts say it could take hundreds of years and billions of dollars to undo the effects.
Greg Crowther, director of Landmines Advisory, a British charity that works to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance, said Ukraine had “unprecedented” ordnance levels in the past three decades. According to a recent report by the Slovakian think tank GLOBSEC, an area of over 173,500 square kilometers in Ukraine, accounting for about 30% of its total land area, has experienced serious conflicts. The report said that while the ongoing conflict may make survey data imprecise, overall Ukraine is more threatened by landmines and unexploded ordnance than countries such as Afghanistan and Syria, given the scale and concentration of munitions use.
According to reports, during the conflict, both Russia and Ukraine deployed landmines. The report also pointed out that in addition to landmines, ammunition and bombs that have not exploded will also pose a serious threat. It is worth mentioning that, in addition to anti-tank mines that require a huge weight to explode, some mines can trigger an explosion with only the normal weight of the human body, and these mines cannot distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. According to UN figures, 298 civilians in Ukraine were killed and 632 injured by unexploded ordnance (during deployment) between February last year and July this year.
The deployment of cluster munitions may exacerbate the problem, and it is estimated that it will take 757 years to complete the cleanup
The U.S. military aid package to Ukraine includes two types of landmines, the report said. The first is the Remote Anti-Armor Mine System (RAAM), which can be deployed to create temporary minefields with 155mm shells, although the ammunition is theoretically self-destructing. But another US-made M21 anti-tank mine delivered to Ukraine will not destroy itself, raising concerns about its subsequent removal.
In addition to this, the recent supply of cluster munitions to Ukraine by the United States may also pose a greater danger. Reports that these (cluster) munitions are known to fire duds that do not explode will increase the security risk.
According to CCTV News, cluster munitions are also called submunitions. A cluster munition may contain hundreds or thousands of steel balls. Some of them will explode like small landmines with a delay, and some will not explode after drilling into the sand, becoming a long-term hidden danger and threat. According to Haiwai.com, the most dangerous thing about cluster munitions is that a large number of duds are still powerful after decades.
According to reports, despite the use of specialized mine clearance equipment and vehicles, due to the dense distribution of mines on the front line of the conflict, it had to be cleared manually. It is reported that members of the demining team need to be trained, wear protective equipment, and use metal detectors to search the ground inch by inch.
According to GLOBSEC estimates, an average deminer can clear an area ranging from 49 to 82 square feet (approximately 4 square meters to 7 square meters) per day. Although demining personnel have been trained and equipped with relevant safety equipment, explosion accidents caused by demining also occur from time to time. Vladislav Sokolov, a deminer, said that a deminer he knew lost a leg due to demining in 2022. “He is now trying to walk again (through a prosthesis).
Some media pointed out that demining work is not only slow but also expensive. Some experts estimate that under the current circumstances, if 500 demining teams are dispatched, it will take 757 years to complete the demining work throughout Ukraine. In addition, the United States has committed more than $95 million to demining Ukraine. However, according to World Bank estimates, the cost of demining in Ukraine ranges from $2 to $8 per square meter. Over the next decade, the country could spend as much as $37.4 billion on mine action.