N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Human Right Watch says that the Ukrainian army has fired ‘thousands of butterfly mines’ in the east-Ukrainian Izhum region. Since 1997 its use has been strictly prohibited.
When the investigators of the human rights organisation Human Rights Watch went to Izhum the intention was to document war crimes committed by the Russian army. The trip culminated in an investigation that the Ukrainian army has fired ‘thousands of anti-personnel mines’ in the region. The organisation documented the use of the landmines in nine different areas, often close to schools, hospitals and private gardens. All areas were located near the positions of the Russian troops, indicating that they were targeted.
These are the PFM-1S anti-personnel mines, which date from the Soviet era and are inspired by a cluster munitions used by the Germans during World War II. A bitter detail is, that the recently promised German Leopard tanks for Ukraine to defend themselves against Russia also originate of WW II. (L’histoire se repete, a cynic could say).
The Ottawa treaty has banned the use of anti-personnel mines since 1997. Ukraine is among the 164 countries that have signed up to the treaty. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kiev inherited a stockpile of more than six million of these mines, and was obliged to destroy all those stocks. To date, Ukraine still has a stockpile of more than three million PFM mines.
May be, during Zelensky’s ’secret’ visit to Brussels, not only some questions could be asked about the immense corruption in his country, even the minister of Defense had to step down, but also about the use of forbidden anti-personnel mines. That Russia , that didn’t sign the Ottawa treaty , is using these mines on a larger scale, can not be an excuse.