Ukraine signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty which outlaws anti-personnel mines. The Russian Federation refused. Putin’s army invading Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas uses anti-personnel mines aggressively. Many Ukrainians, military and civilians alike, have been grievously injured on or near the battlefront in Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine where the Muscovites deploy these vicious weapons.
Anti-personnel mines are prohibited because they are inhumane. Their only purpose is to injure human beings. These mines are designed to trigger and explode with a footfall, causing severe injury to the lower extremities. That is why 164 countries have ratified or acceded to the Ottawa Treaty. Formally known as the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction,” the Ottawa Treaty became binding international law on 1 March 1999. The Mine Ban Treaty requires each state party never to use anti-personnel mines, never to produce them, and to destroy all of them.
Ukraine was a peaceful and mine-free country until Russia invaded on 20 February 2014. After foreign troops from Muscovy occupied Crimea and part of Donbas, their offensive push faltered and stalled. Putin’s army opted for trench warfare, and laid mines in abundance all along the de facto line of control between Crimea, Ukraine and Kherson, Ukraine, across the battlefront that runs for over 400 kilometres across Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine went from being mine-free to being one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world, solely because of invasion and occupation by the Russian Federation.
Sappers from a brigade deployed to the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed 14 “PMN-2” anti-personnel mines that were found near their defensive position on the battlefront. Ukrainian officers assigned to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) and members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine saw the mines and witnessed their destruction.
All of the anti-personnel mines that were found were manufactured in 1987, in the time of the Soviet Union. Ukraine destroyed all of the “PMN-2” anti-personnel mines it once had, adhering to the Ottawa Treaty. A press statement from the JFO reached the logical conclusion that the mines “got into Ukraine from the territory of the Russian Federation.”
The Ukrainian sappers reported a nasty surprise that the Russians left for them, when they set about de-mining. The anti-personnel mines the Russian set were in an unmarked minefield, obscured, and laid out in a manner to confuse de-miners and increase the risk of an explosion. Despite this malicious intent, the detection, removal, and destruction of the Russian anti-personnel mines took place with no de-miner being injured.
Among the many war crimes Russia is committing, setting anti-personnel mines is among the worst. It does not matter that the Russian Federation has not ratified or acceded to the Ottawa Treaty. Anti-personnel mines are indiscriminate weapons and they mostly harm civilians, not soldiers. A farmer in his field is more likely to detonate an anti-personnel mine than a trained soldier on patrol. Russia knows this, and deploys anti-personnel mines anyway. Deliberately targeting civilians in a time of war, Russia is committing a war crime.