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Ukraine will need to demine 16,000 sq.km. of Donbas

Ammunition supplied from Russia often does not explode and remains in the ground.

Ukraine will need to demine 16,000 sq.km. of Donbas
Photo: National Police website

The area of 16,000 sq.km. in eastern Ukraine has been contaminated with explosives objects and will need to be cleared, Interfax-Ukraine has quoted the head of the Defence Ministry's department of environmental security and mine action, Maksym Komisarov, as saying.

"Some 7,000 sq.km. of land controlled by Ukraine are contaminated with explosives, and 9,000 sq.km. of uncontrolled [by the government] land," he said at a briefing in Kyiv.

Komisarov noted that the ammunition supplied to the militants from Russia is often old and does not explode, remaining on the ground. "This represents the biggest threat," he said.

Since the beginning of hostilities in Donbas, 2,558 civilians, including 242 children, have been killed as a result of the detonation of explosives. By March 2018, 273 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and around 1,000 were hurt as a result of detonation.

Since 2014, 26,000 hectares of territories have been checked and more than 346,000 explosives have been destroyed.

"However, the cleared territories cannot be considered safe because, despite the Minsk agreements, the militants continue to shell our territories, repeatedly contaminating them, and we can clear the same site several times," the head of the department explained.

According to him, 50 mine-clearing teams of the State Emergencies Service and the State Service of Special Transport are working in the area. 

Last year, international NGOs such as the HALO Trust, Danish Demining Group and FSD began helping Ukrainian experts in mine clearance.

The minister for temporary occupied territories and internally displaced persons, Vadym Chernysh, earlier said that it may cost more than 800m dollars to demine entire Donbass.

Experts earlier said that the demining of Donbas would take 10-15 years and this process would cost Ukraine "more than 1bn dollars".

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