Most of my blog scribbling relates to the military side of Russia’s occupation of eastern Ukraine, but there is another side to this European conflict. With on-going shelling by Russia’s occupation forces, it wont come as a surprise to learn stuff keeps getting damaged. That stuff is houses, schools, medical facilities and civilian infrastructure such as electricity, gas and water supplies. Large swaths of eastern Ukraine is infested with mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and abandoned ammunition. Although the static front line stretches for around 500km, there are also large areas behind it which previously saw heavy fighting and shelling, along with regions where Russia’s invasion forces were pushed back from. Seven years of fighting has left vast quantities of UXO littering the landscape which farmers tractors, civilians out walking and children playing in the woods will be setting off for decades to come.
Created to combat emergencies throughout the country, Ukraine has the State Emergency Service (SES). In the front line region, the hazardous job of SES personnel is to carry out emergency repairs to buildings, extinguish fires and as seen in the above pics, to clear mines & UXO. Behind the front line, much of what they clear is old ordnance, gradually hidden by nature or buried deep within the soil. Along the front line, each time the equally brave civilian workers need to conduct repairs to gas, water etc. SES personnel first check for mines and UXO.
From last week, the below pictures is a classic example of the lurking dangers, in this case hidden beneath the snow. An unexploded anti-tank rocket was detected near where an electricity supply was to be reconnected. This ever-present UXO hazard means a relatively simple task of repairing a damaged cable or digging a hole to fix a leaking pipe, becomes a long drawn out process which takes considerably longer to undertake. This danger is only enhanced by Russia’s forces propensity to fire on civilian workers undertaking repairs.
So please spare a thought for the largely unseen heroics of the men and women of Ukraine’s State emergency service. Due respect to them.