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HRW Urges Ukraine To Probe Its Military’s Use of Banned Mines

HRW Urges Ukraine To Probe Its Military’s Use of Banned Mines
folder_openEurope... access_timeone month ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Ukraine should investigate the “apparent use” of banned antipersonnel landmines by its troops in the northeastern area of Izyum when it was under Russian control, Human Rights Watch has said.

The city in the Kharkov province was under the Russian control on April 1st, more than a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the beginning of a special military operation into the neighboring country.

“Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines around the Izyum area, causing civilian casualties and posing an ongoing risk,” said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at HRW, in a report released on Tuesday.

The rights group found that Ukrainian forces fired PFM antipersonnel mines into Russian-controlled areas near Russian facilities. Also known as “butterfly mines” or “petal mines,” PFM antipersonnel mines differ from other mines which are placed by hand. Instead, the PFM mines found in Izyum “operate only when scattered by aircraft, rockets and artillery, or when fired from specialized vehicles or launchers.”

Their use is banned under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty – which Ukraine signed in 1999 and ratified in 2005.

“Uncleared landmines drive displacement, hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid, and prevent agricultural activities,” read the report.

Ukraine’s defense ministry has so far failed to address an inquiry by HRW over the mine use, saying in a written response on November 23 that “information on the types of weapons used by Ukraine … is not to be commented on before the war ends.”

According to the report, the ministry said the “military abides by its international obligations, including the prohibition of the use of any anti-personnel mines.”

The report’s findings come after HRW researchers spoke to more than 100 people, including witnesses, victims of landmines, doctors and Ukrainian de-miners between September 19 and October 9 in the Izyum area.

HRW said it verified 11 civilian casualties from the mines in nine different areas in and around Izyum city.