Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, announced this week that Slovenia intends to transfer civilian mine-clearing equipment to Ukraine, as part of the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which will be used to help clear mines from formerly occupied territories in Ukraine.
Based upon the experiences of other countries, mine-clearing can take decades to conclude after a conflict. After warfare in the 1970s and 1980s, Cambodia began large scale operations to remove landmines. Despite decades having passed since peace returned to Cambodia, an estimated 5-6 million landmines are thought to remain buried throughout the country, and there are an estimated 40,000 amputees in the country as a result of exploding mines and ordinances.
This past week, a Ukrainian farmer died when his tractor hit a mine buried in the agricultural field through which he was driving. At present, many beaches and rivers in Ukraine are also closed to civilian use due to the threat of water-based mines. Ukrainian authorities have continued to warn the population of the dangers of wandering in woods, or along roads, that Russian troops had formerly occupied.
In light of the pressing threat of mines, during a press event in Kyiv this week, Kuleba and Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanja Fajon, spoke about plans for future cooperation between the two countries and Ukraine’s great need for further humanitarian assistance. The Ukrainian Minister noted that Slovenia had promised to rebuild the Kharkiv Institute of Prosthetics, which had been destroyed during the war, and to assist in rebuilding the public transportation services in the city of Kharkiv.
The Ministers took advantage of the Slovenian’s visit to sign memorandums of understanding relating to data protection and cyber security. Minister Kuleba said that the cooperation with Slovenia in the cyber defense sphere would allow both countries to be better defended from “Russian hackers’ attacks.”
Fajon continued that Slovenia had plans of helping with the rehabilitation of Ukrainians who were hurt by the war and that Slovenia had received Ukraine’s requests for “additional military assistance. This is what we are going to discuss now as we have a new government. We are preparing a new package of assistance for Ukraine and it will be discussed literally within the next few days. I have assured the minister that Slovenia will provide its support and hear all the needs of Ukraine.”
The Slovenian Minister made a point of stressing Slovenia’s strong support for Ukraine’s goal of becoming a European Union member state.
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