Russians ‘use banned ‘butterfly mines’ to kill and maim Ukrainians’ | news news
Russian forces appear to be using “butterfly mines” to injure and kill Ukrainians, photos show the small bombs scattered over a city.
The explosives banned by international law look a bit like toys, but can be deadly if activated.
They are usually dropped en masse from rockets, mortars, or airplanes and slide to the ground without exploding. They then explode with only 5 kg of pressure.
Photos released to The Sun by the Halo Trust, a demining organization once supported by Princess Diana, show a number of mines scattered around the town of Hrakove, near Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine.
The bombs, officially called PFM-1 mines, can be seen hidden in the grass, scattered on park benches and lying by the side of the road.
Due to their plastic shape and small size, it is feared that children will pick them up and think they are toys.
Members of the Halo Trust are now working desperately to clean up the area, a process that will likely take years.
Ukrainian authorities say a number of people, including five children, have already lost limbs to the explosives, also known as flower mines because of their shape.
Russian troops are believed to have dropped mines in the area last year to cover their retreat.
Banderivka – not her real name – is a deminer from Lemberg. She said: “Soldiers and civilians are still being injured by these mines. The Russians sometimes cover them up when they retreat so we don’t even see them.”
“When you see one, you know there are about 700 of them around you.”
“The worst thing about them is that kids are attracted to them – they look like a plastic toy on the floor – and sometimes they pick them up.”
She said Ukrainian troops often use low-tech solutions to clear the mines, such as shooting at them or throwing something at them.
Benderivka called on the West to put pressure on Russia to stop using devices like the butterfly mine.
Ukraine signed the Ottawa Treaty, which banned the mines, and Russia declared war, saying it would scrap its stockpiles – something Russia was unwilling to do.
The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of using the explosives in the breakaway Donetsk region, which Kiev has denied.
Most of the many decades-old bombs were made in the former Soviet Union, making it difficult to determine who dropped them.
A village in southern Ukraine called Mykolaiv, which was once home to thousands of people, had to be evacuated after mines were left scattered around the area, according to the Halo Trust. Only 150 people remain.
Paul McCann, the Halo Trust’s communications director, said the butterfly mines remain explosive for a long time to come.
Live ones are still being found in Afghanistan, he explained, putting innocent civilians at risk years after the war is over.
He told the Sun his colleagues at the NGO often said, “One day of fighting equals one month of demining.”
Clearing the explosives across Ukraine will cost about £30 billion, according to the World Bank.
But Paul said if the international community comes together to meet some of the costs, they can use drones and remote-controlled armored vehicles to get the job done safely.
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