MS Risk Blog

Kosovo’s troubling Past helps Ukrainians for the Future

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Thirteen Ukrainians have taken a trip to Kosovo to train with experienced mine clearers. The intensive advanced four-week training course will allow them to return to Ukraine that is now littered with unexploded ordnances left behind by the Russian invaders.

The 13 people, a mix of civilian and military personnel, are being trained by Kosovo locals who have experience in clearing thousands of mines and cluster bombs left behind by Serb forces in the 1990s. This experience will be vitally important given the similar circumstances in which they will be working.

Russia has mined much of eastern Ukraine and as the frontlines ebb and flow it is essential that Ukraine doesn’t lose the limited supplies and personnel to mines or unexploded bombs.

Army and government officials say all areas retaken after Russian occupation will have been planted with mines with estimates that more than 300,000 sq km of territory will have to be cleared.

The task of training these Ukrainian deminers is the Mines Awareness Trust (MAT), a school that trains hundreds of people in the discipline. The school has trained and sent advisors to many war-affected areas such as Iraq, Mozambique and Libya.

Luckily for the trainers, the mines that the Russians are using are very similar to those used by forces in the former Yugoslavia allowing the trainers perfect base from which to teach.

Even as Russia takes territory it will be essential to have trained personnel who are able to make safe areas for returning Ukrainians, civilian and military. After wars end and bullets stop flying, the danger of unexploded ordnance and undiscovered mines can still kill and maim future generations.

In places like Cambodia and Vietnam there are still problems with innocent civilians suffering from the thousands of mines planted by US forces, Viet Cong forces and others in the wars through the mid-1900s.

Unfortunately, there is no incentive for forces to clear up the mines they have laid and so if Russia or Ukraine are forced out of the country, and people are able to return, there will still be thousands of unexploded ordnance that can cause major problems for the population.

Hopefully, the training will succeed in allowing these brave people to save as many lives as possible and help reduce the risk of mines to the civilian population.