Russian forces left ‘hundreds of thousands’ of mines, unexploded shells in northern Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers walk down a street damaged by Russian shelling in Kharkiv Oblast.

Ukrainian soldiers walk down a street damaged by Russian shelling in Kharkiv Oblast. Wolfgang Schwan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In northern Ukraine, Russian forces have dropped and left behind “hundreds of thousands of dangerous objects,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday night, including mines and unexploded shells.

“At least several thousand such items are disposed of daily,” Zelensky said. “The occupiers left mines everywhere. In the houses they seized. Just on the streets, in the fields. They mined people’s property, mined cars, doors. They consciously did everything to make the return to these areas after de-occupation as dangerous as possible. “

In Kharkiv, authorities are asking people to stay away from some neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city, where there are mines strewn across streets. Lt. Col. Nikolay Ovcharuk, head of the state emergency service’s de-mining unit, said the plastic devices are PTM-1M mines, which were used by Soviet troops in Afghanistan and are detonated by timers.

Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of dropping “parachute bombs” over Kharkiv, and a resident who gave his name as Sergey told The Guardian that at about 1 am Monday morning, “we heard some strange sounds, something whistled and then it all dropped.”

Zelensky said he believes Ukraine is now “one of the most contaminated by mines in the world,” and considers this a war crime. Russian forces, he added, “did everything to kill or maim as many of our people as possible, even when they were forced to withdraw from our country. Without the appropriate orders, they would not have done it.”

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