Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Ukrainian forces of using banned antipersonnel mines, claiming they’ve injured 50 civilians including five children.
“Ukraine should investigate its military’s apparent use of thousands of rocket-fired antipersonnel landmines in and around the eastern city of Izium when Russian forces occupied the area,” the group said in a report published Jan. 31.
The weapons, also called “butterfly mines” or “petal mines” are distributed by rocket across a target area and violate international humanitarian law as they cannot distinguish between civilians and combatants. HRW’s report highlights how they can drive displacement, hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid, and prevent agricultural activities.
They are banned under the Mine Ban Treaty of 1997, to which Kyiv is a signatory.
HRW has also documented numerous breaches of international law by Russia forces, including the use of the same types of banned mines as well as booby traps, since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year.
“Russian forces have repeatedly used antipersonnel mines and committed atrocities across the country, but this doesn’t justify Ukrainian use of these prohibited weapons”, said Steve Goose, arms division director at HRW.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine announced in statement on January 31 that it will study the HRW report, adding: "Ukraine has always shown openness to cooperation with international organizations, in particular, only last year a number of meetings were held with representatives of HRW.
“We expect that HRW will actively assist Ukraine in consolidating international efforts to provide assistance in the field of mine action.”
Ukraine’s defense ministry said the army upholds its treaty obligations regarding mines, but added it would not comment on the types of weapons used until the war ends.
Referring to an area of Ukraine occupied by Russia from April to early September, Goose said: “Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines around the Izium area, causing civilian casualties and posing an ongoing risk.”
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter