Ukraine is currently the country with the most mines and unexploded remains of explosives in the worldwith a third of its surface affected, which is equivalent to seven times Swiss. To help in the titanic task of cleaning up these lands, the European Union has delivered this week a powerful Croatian-made machine.
The delivery of the deminer to the authorities of the city of Dniproin the center-west of the country, not far from the combat front line, coincided with the visit of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrellto Ukraine.
“The problems of mines or unexploded remains of explosives are among the biggest that Ukraine has and, in particular, one of the biggest that it will have when it has to rebuild and restore the country,” said to EFE the head of the Foreign Policy Instruments Service (FPI), Peter Wagner, who led the European delegation that traveled to Dnipro to make the delivery.
This deminer is the third MV-10 machine, whose robotic system of great power and resistance has been tested in the field, that the EU delivers to Ukraine, and which will be completed with a fourth next spring, when with the thaw it will be able to begin its work. at full capacity.
In what could seem like a hybrid between a battle tank and a harvester, the machine, weighing almost 21,000 kilos and costing approximately one million euros, comes with spare parts and training to instruct its use with control. from distance.
It is capable of cleaning up to 4,000 square meters per hour and is scheduled to begin its work in the south of the country, around the city of Kherson.
Russia has planted a huge number of mines in the Ukrainian territories it has occupied. According to official estimates, up to 174,000 square kilometers have been mined, mainly in eastern and southern Ukraine.
It is estimated that, once the conflict is over, it could take decades to demine the entire territory of Ukraine, a country with 603,628 km², about 100,000 more than Spain.
“We have never had such a big mine problem since World War II, neither in Cambodia nor in Bosnia. “It is truly the most serious since the Second World War.”said Wagner, whose department is within the European Foreign Affairs Service (EEAS), which Borrell directs.
According to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia has especially mined areas with critical infrastructure, such as the nuclear power plant in Zaporozhyethe largest in Europe and located less than one hundred kilometers from Dnipro.
According to data from the Ukrainian Government, at least 250 civilians have died and more than 500 have suffered injuries or mutilations as a result of the explosion of mines or other types of devices.
The cleaning material delivered by the EU will be used for mine clearance both “in cities and in the countryside,” according to Wagner.
Machines, robots, drones and dogs
In addition to providing Ukraine with demining equipment, from powerful machines, vehicles, robots, drones, to a hundred special protective suits, the EU also finances operations in the country of international anti-mine agencies.
In addition, it is committed to supporting Ukrainians in developing capacities within the agency they have created to undertake this immense challenge in a country with large areas dedicated to agriculture and with many areas of marshes.
Until last August, the European Union as a whole allocated more than 114 million euros for demining in Ukraine.
(With information from EFE)