Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 08.10.2018
Putin’s army invading Europe in Ukraine has made Donbas one of the most mined areas in the world. To inflict as much suffering on the Ukrainian people as possible, the invader-occupiers from Muscovy prevent mine clearance in the territory they control. Ukraine, on the other hand, has invited international mine action NGOs to the war front as well as deploying mine clearance teams from the Ukrainian army.
On October 6, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine presented an information map of areas contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war. The map was prepared with the assistance of The Halo Trust, a mine action non-governmental organization based in the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine gave its motivation for presenting a landmine map in a statement: “With the onset of aggression by the Russian Federation on the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, there have been repeated cases of undermining the military and civilian population with explosive objects.”
There are 242 places which are “territory identified as dangerous” – minefields – indicated on the map. Three international mine action NGOs have been invited by the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine to work in the area under the effective control of the Joint Forces Operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The NGOs are The Halo Trust, DDG — The Danish Demining Group, and FSD – The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action.
On the map, there is one dense cluster of identified minefields near the invasion battlefront north-west of the Russian-occupied city of Horlivka. Between the villages of Novoluhanske and Kodema there is are 14 sites where The Halo Trust is working to clear landmines and the explosive remnants of war. In January 2017, the Ukrainian army liberated Novoluhanske – which was in the “grey zone” – from Russian occupation troops. At that time the battlefront shifted south of Kodema, but the legacy of Russian occupation was fields and roads which are extremely dangerous because of unmarked minefields and anti-vehicle mines.
The Halo Trust published an online article about its work in Ukraine on 17 September, titled “Life on the Frontline in Ukraine: Halo Restores Hope to the Village of Kodema.” It started mine clearance at Kodema in early August: “More than 650,000 square metres of land in and around the village has been identified as hazardous—contaminated with landmines, including anti-vehicle mines which would kill several people in a single blast, and other explosive debris left behind by the shelling. Two of HALO’s teams, funded by Britain and Norway, are now working to clear this land.”
The Muscovites who are invading Crimea and Donbas put captive Ukrainian citizens beyond the help of international mine action NGOs. On September 30, three children were killed in Russian-occupied Horlivka by a MON-50 anti-personnel mine (manufactured only in the Russian Federation). NGOs that clear landmines are not allowed to operate in the part of Ukraine that Putin’s invasion army has seized.
The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. Putin’s War has lasted longer than the First World War. Belgian and French army experts are still clearing the explosive remnants of the Great War, a century after it ended. Muscovy invasion and partial occupation is an international war that is doing tremendous harm to the land and people of Ukraine. Putin at war is not being stopped by the Western civilized world. The horrors of mines and the explosive remnants of war grow with every day that the liberation of Donbas and Crimea is delayed.