Ukraine War: Britain Helping Ukrainians Clear Russian Minefields
Following more than 18 months of war, Ukraine is now the most heavily mined country in the world – and it’s slowing down its counteroffensive against invading Russian forces.
Specialist British military bomb disposal teams are training Ukrainian engineers to clear Russian minefields. The training has been taking place in a military base in Poland.
Most of the Ukrainian engineers, like Denys, are already battle-hardened. He volunteered to fight the day Russia’s full-scale invasion against its neighbour began in February 2022.
Denys says he appreciates the help being given by Britain but stresses the need for more Western help and equipment to clear the Russian minefields.
British EOD Experts Testing Ukrainians’ Skills In Poland
“We can’t do it on our own,” Denys added, calling Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) the most dangerous job in the world. “We need more sappers … we don’t have enough of them.”
Russia has been producing and laying mines on an industrial scale in Ukraine. They are spread over a sizeable area, with just one square metre possibly housing as many as five explosives.
Even if the war ended tomorrow, it would still take hundreds of years to clear the sneaky, deadly mines that have now been laid in Ukraine, Denys further mentioned.
At the military base in Poland, dummy devices have been buried and booby-trapped, with the British EOD experts testing Ukrainians’ skills as the training nears its end.
Ukrainian Sappers Performing Impressively Despite Evolving Threat
The British team also commented on the speed of the Ukrainians. “They are very quick … Their work is impressive with the kit they have been given,” according to Staff Sgt Kevin Engstrom.
The Ukrainian engineers are often required to clear areas still in range of Russian artillery and small arms fire. That’s one of the reasons why they mostly work at night.
The threat is also evolving. Russia has been placing anti-tank mines on top of each other to trigger larger explosions. Trip wires are also often hidden in the grass.
The Ukrainian sappers take on a slow and laborious task every day, using Vallons, which look like metal detectors, to clear a path through these deadly hidden traps.