Ukraine mines could exceed 1 million, says UN expert
Louise Greenwood

WATCH: UN expert reveals the problems of unexploded devices left in Ukraine


United Nations mine experts working on the ground in Ukraine have told CGTN that the number of unexploded devices in the country could be in excess of 1 million.

CGTN has spoken to Alexander Lobov, a military engineer and mine action expert working with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in his home country. 

"Taking into consideration the scale of territories that have been affected by war and the densities of minefields," he said. "The number of mines can run into hundreds of thousands. I cannot not exclude that the number could even exceed the million mark."   

It is claimed that anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines have been in use in Ukraine from the outbreak of the conflict in February 2022.


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While the country has been a signatory of the Ottowa Treaty on the prohibition of the production and stockpiling of mines since 1999, Russia is not a signatory of the agreement. Ukraine now has one of the highest civilian casualty rates in the world resulting from their use.

Research by the humanitarian group the Halo Trust has identified the highest clusters of landmines in Ukraine in the south of the country around the Kherson region and in the north-west around Kharkiv.

These areas have been at the forefront of the battle between Ukrainian forces and advancing Moscow- backed troops.  

Lobov said the scale of unexploded devices left in towns and villages could be three times the number seen in Croatia after the Balkans war of the early 1990s.

"According to the statement of the National Mine Action Authority, 174,000 kilometers of Ukrainian territory has been affected," he said. 

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The type of ammunition seen in the conflict is also affecting efforts by mine clearance operatives on the ground.  

"They are experiencing new modern weapons they had never seen before," he added. "Ukraine at the moment is experiencing cluster ammunition, ballistic missiles….that have not exploded." 

Lobov said Ukraine had taken lessons from mine clearance campaigns in other conflicts, notably the Balkans and Cambodia. 

"Definitely Ukraine has benefited from international experience," he said. "But the relevant programs in these countries have been going on for decades. We cannot wait for decades."

He believes that while the true extent of Ukraine's land mine legacy will only come to light after the violence has ended, what has happened in the country could determine international policy on their use for decades to come.

"In my opinion Ukraine will change mine action philosophy and how to respond to explosive threats," he said.

Ukraine mines could exceed 1 million, says UN expert

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