In eastern Ukraine, the frontline stretches for around 400km. Twisting and turning along rivers, valleys and fields, it has been largely static since early 2015. Since then, apart from occasional small scale attacks on forward positions and skirmishes involving recon patrols, there have been no large scale attacks launched by either side. Because of this, the frontline now resembles a scene from world war one, with long snakelike trenches zigzagging across the countryside & both Ukrainian and Russia’s forces heavily dug in along it.
With Russia wanting to hold onto its occupied territory and Ukraine keen to stop any further Russian advance, the fighting over the last 6 years has mostly involved long-range firing. I say long-range, but in some sectors, both sides trenches are but a few hundred metres apart.
This defensive posture means mines and lots of them.
Russia’s flooded eastern Ukraine with all manner of mines, from anti-tank to anti-personnel. Due to Russia’s 2014 invasion, eastern Ukraine has been declared “one of the most mine-affected regions in the world.” OSCE monitors routinely report seeing large numbers of mines laid by Russia’s forces and civilians killed or injured by mines in occupied Ukraine – most notably along the south bank of the Siverskyi Donets River (Luhansk Oblast) where huge numbers of anti-personnel mines have been laid.
The below OSCE reports detail two tragic events which perfectly illustrate the horrors inflicted on eastern Ukraine by Russia’s mines. People routinely having their legs blown off because they simply went for a walk along a river bank or indulged in a spot of fishing.
Now, Ukrainian forces also lay mines, and with an estimated 481 Russian tanks and nearly 1,000 armoured vehicles in occupied eastern Ukraine, it’s easy to see why. But lest we forget, no one was laying any mines in Ukraine until Russia invaded the country.
Mines make no distinction between soldiers or civilians.
Children are particularly vulnerable to mines and unexploded ammunition. Doing what we all did as children, they play outside in woods and abandoned buildings and get drawn to unusual objects. In sept 2018, the three young boys seen below were all killed by a Russia’s forces mine. In the occupied town of Horlivka close to a military checkpoint, they’d triggered a mine while walking/playing in a wood. Report.
Perfectly illustrating the lack of concern for civilian casualties and the sheer abundance of mines Russia’s sent into Ukraine, the below OSCE images bring us more up-to-date.
April 21st 2020: near the Petrivske disengagement area, an OSCE UAV spotted a bag full of “approximately 20 anti-personnel mines.” These were assessed at Russian made PMN-2 mines, which as the header article image shows, are green in colour and have an X-shaped design pressure plate. The mounds of earth alongside the plastic bag indicate some mines have already been buried.
Sept 2nd 2020: Again near the village of Petrivske, the OSCE spotted a “probable” Russian made MON-200 anti-personnel mine. Hidden under canvas, this larger mine is also effective against light-skinned vehicles. It’s likely the three boys who died in 2018, stepped on one of these more powerful anti-personnel mines.