War in Ukraine, the tragedy of anti-personnel mines returns in violation of the signed treaties. The Russians use them but also the Ukrainians. Human Rights Watch research
The international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch, which has been involved in the defense of human rights since the 1970s, declared that it had uncovered evidence that Ukrainian military forces dropped thousands of anti-personnel landmines on formerly Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine.
Human Rights Watch immediately called on Ukrainian institutions to investigate the allegations.
The description of the association, which went to the site, is very precise and detailed: the mines allegedly scattered “in and around” the eastern Ukrainian city of Izyum. Russian occupying forces captured and held the area from April until September, when Ukrainian forces drove them out.
Human Rights Watch investigators visited the Izyum area shortly after the Russian withdrawal and also interviewed more than 100 people, including Ukrainian victims, witnesses, first responders, doctors and deminers. They came to the conclusion that Ukrainian forces fired Uragan rockets carrying Uragans at nine locations PFM landmines, also called “green parrot” or “butterfly” mines.
PFM anti-personnel mines are particularly insidious devices, so small that they can be held in one hand and capable of being activated when trampled on by 5 kilograms of weight. Children are the perfect prey. Often green or brown in color to blend in with the ground, the mine is actually a polyethylene plastic container containing 40 grams of explosive liquid. They are designed specifically to appeal to children. They cause amputations of the upper and lower limbs and often affect the eyes of the victim who remains blind. Landmines never discriminate between civilians and combatants.
In this case, these are Soviet and Russian-made bombs still in force in the Ukrainian army. The two wings of the PFM allow it to hover in the air by rotating until it lands on the ground, activating itself upon direct or near foot traffic. The thickest mine wing contains the liquid explosive.
Although they appeared to be aimed at the Russian occupation forces, Human Rights Watch also found the mines in civilian areas, landed in some cases near private houses or in courtyards. Local health workers told investigators they had directly treated about 50 local people for injuries similar to those from landmines. The drama is that about half of the injuries involved traumatic amputations of the lower leg or foot, injuries consistent with PFM explosive landmines. The association’s investigation would have found unexploded mines, mine remains, metal boxes carrying the mines in the rockets and traces of explosions consistent with the amount of explosive contained in the weapons. Expert deminers say it could take decades to clear the area of unexploded ordnance.
The landmine ban treaty has existed since 1997. Ukraine signed it in 1999, ratifying it 6 years later. The treaty requires owning countries to destroy their stockpiles. Kiev officials they claimed to have done so for more than 3 million specimens inherited from the Soviet Union, but that more than 3 million remain. Russia also obviously has this type of explosive that it actively uses, in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch explained.
But Russia, unlike Ukraine, is not a signatory to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which bans landmines.
Interviewed by the Washington Post Mary Wareham, advocacy director for the arms division of Human Rights Watch explained: “There was a whole series of evidence that we believe, when you look at it in its entirety, suggest strongly that Ukraine was responsibleThe case also caused a stir in Germany after an in-depth article in Der Spiegel magazine.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said days ago that it had “taken note” of the report and that it would be “duly studied by the competent authorities of Ukraine”.
“Ukraine, exercising its right of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations,” said the Kiev Foreign Ministry, “fully fulfills its international obligations as the Russian occupiers commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide of the Ukrainian people.”
“Russian forces have repeatedly used landmines and committed atrocities across the country, but that doesn’t justify Ukrainian use of these banned weapons,” said Steve Goose, director of the weapons division at Human Rights Watch.
Wareham also reminded the Washington Post that Russian forces have deployed multiple mines in multiple areas across Ukraine. But the Russian use of mines it does not absolve Ukraine of its responsibilities.
However, Wareham declared herself happy to see the statements of Ukraine which “undertakes to examine the results very seriously”.
The independent association has published three reports on Moscow’s use of landmines during the conflict. These include “victim-activated booby traps,” in which an explosive device is attached to a corpse and detonates when the body is moved.
Kiev’s defense ministry told Human Rights Watch in November that it was complying with its international obligations, including a ban on the use of landmines, the organization said. However, it did not address issues related to the use of PFM mines in and around Izyum. But according to the Ukrainian authorities “information on the types of weapons used by Ukraine … must not be commented on before the end of the war”.
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