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RUSSIAN LANDMINES IN KHARKIV REGION INJURE CIVILIANS

Region of Concern: Ukraine

Written By Mridul Mahendroo; Edited by Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor

Date: December 28, 2022

Kharkiv Region, Ukraine[1]


Event: On December 28, two civilians were injured by the explosion of a landmine in Buhaivka, Kharkiv Region, Ukraine. The Regional Governor has confirmed the hospitalization of both individuals and has issued a formal warning to civilians in regions liberated from the Russian army concerning the danger of landmines. President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that the Russian army has left many “death traps” behind. Approximately 30% of the Ukrainian territory has been mined by the Russians. It is possible that all kinds of objects such as doors, dead bodies, and household objects have been trapped.[2]


Significance: It is likely that the army will not be able to conduct large operations to demine the country due to war operations making it likely for civilians to wait months before their lands is secure. It is likely that Ukrainian economic issues will make it difficult to demining as the costs of removing one mine is estimated to several hundred US dollars[3]. The diverse location and variety of mines make it likely that the Ukrainian government will need to obtain and invest in many types of demining equipment adapted to various terrains. It is likely that roads and regional infrastructure have been mined to slow the repair of electrical and water infrastructure and prevent the access to medical facilities. This is likely to create difficulties for the Ukrainian population for heating, cooking, and obtaining drinking water. In the long term, the presence of landmines on farmland is likely to prevent the planting of crops in risk-prone areas. If mines are not identified before the planting season, the economic fallout on farmers is likely to increase as food shortages are likely to occur. Civilians in rural areas will also suffer losses due to damage dealt to their machines and tractors by anti-vehicle mines.


Recommendations: Police and army forces should be trained on a nationwide scale to recognize and differentiate different types of landmines used by the Russians as well as the methods to deactivate them. As Ukraine is part of the UN Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention, the government should request additional financial assistance from European and American allies to equip itself with sufficient metal detectors, radars, and mine-detecting machines to cover different types and sizes of terrains. Local officials should inform civilians of the risks by distributing leaflets and digital messages providing visual indicators to recognize landmines and to create awareness. Landmine detection forces should secure urban areas first but also agricultural and rural spaces by erecting fences to avoid additional civilian deaths or injuries. NGOs specialized in demining, such as the HALO Trust, should be solicited to create and train civilian groups capable of accelerating the demining process at a local scale on agricultural terrains.

 

[1] Kharkiv in Ukraine by TUBS licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

[2] Governor: Landmines injure civilian, child in Kharkiv Oblast, The Kyiv Independent, December 2022, https://kyivindependent.com/news-feed/governor-landmines-injure-civilian-child-in-kharkiv-oblast

[3] The world needs a new solution to its landmine problem, Al Jazeera, October 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2022/10/2/the-world-needs-a-new-solution-to-its-landmine-problem

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