Even before Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, landmines and explosive remnants of war were a serious problem there. Since 2014, when Russia sent its troops into eastern Ukraine, the 250-mile-long contact line that runs through the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and separates the Ukrainian Armed Forces from Russia’s proxy forces has been heavily mined.
According to Reliefweb, by 2021, some two million Ukrainians were exposed to a multitude of such explosive hazards. At the time, Ukraine ranked fifth in the world for civilian casualties resulting from landmines and explosive remnants of war, and in the top three for anti-vehicle landmine accidents. In 2021, Ukraine’s Donbas region was one of the most mine-contaminated regions in the world.
Since 2014, the United States has cooperated with partners and non-governmental organizations toward the clearance of explosive hazards from the battlefields of eastern Ukraine and the destruction of excess conventional weapons there.
“The Department of State, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development work together with foreign governments, private companies, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations to reduce excess small arms and light weapons stockpiles, implement best practices for properly securing and storing conventional weapons, and carry out de-mining programs,” said Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Bonnie Jenkins.
“Since 2014, the U.S.-funded community outreach through our Explosive Ordnance Risk Education programs has prevented countless injuries in Ukraine. Prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion in February, U.S.-funded programs provided outreach to populations along the Line of Control [Contact], conducting over 670 explosive ordnance risk education sessions to prevent injuries and deaths in 2021 alone.”
“Unfortunately, Putin’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified further invasion starting on February 24th of this year has already undone our earlier progress while exposing exponentially more Ukrainian civilians to the threat of explosive remnants of war,” said Under Secretary Jenkins.
"The Russian Federation’s bombing and shelling of civilian apartment blocks, grocery stores, hospitals, schools, and even a nuclear power plant is making this situation catastrophic.”
“The cleanup from Russia’s indiscriminate attacks will take many years and a well-coordinated international response,” said Under Secretary Jenkins. “The United States is dedicated to supporting efforts to help the people of Ukraine rebuild their lives safe from the threat of Russian bombs.”