As of today, 174,000 sq km of land in Ukraine remain potentially mined, and more than $37 billion will need to be spent on clearing the mined areas, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at the Demine Ukraine Forum, Ukrinform reports.
"Russia leaves a deadly trail behind. Mines are a weapon of war that remains active long after de-occupation, after the war, and does not discriminate between civilians, soldiers, or children. Unfortunately, the enemy deliberately mines our towns and villages, our territories, forests and fields to inflict casualties not only on the military but also on thousands of civilians. Today, 174,000 sq km of land in Ukraine remain potentially mined. This figure is already known to almost all our partners. This is a huge area that could take decades to clear, and, according to some experts, hundreds of years," Shmyhal said.
In addition, he stressed, the problem today is extremely complicated because the Russians leave behind a huge number of different dangerous objects that are not detected by metal detectors, or carry out total mining of civilian areas.
"We have already seen after the de-occupation of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions how the enemy mines houses, playgrounds, children's toys and furniture. They simply mine everything to cause as much damage and injury to Ukrainians as possible," Shmyhal said.
According to him, some mines cannot be cleared at all and need to be destroyed on the spot, which complicates the demining process in general.
Shmyhal stressed that no country has faced such a challenge since World War Two, therefore Ukraine cannot do without the help of its partners.
"The scale is enormous. Of course, we need the help of our partners. We are creating the relevant institutions and infrastructure within our country," Shmyhal said.
He recalled that the government has already established an interagency working group on humanitarian demining to coordinate the efforts of all ministries and agencies. This working group is headed by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Yuliya Svyrydenko.
Now, according to the prime minister, the government is forming a Humanitarian Demining Centre to analyse information, conduct strategic planning and engage in dialogue with partners.
Shmyhal thanked Ukraine's partners for their "truly extremely strong" assistance.
"The plan to clean up agricultural land is being implemented. More than 200,000 hectares of the 470,000 hectares identified as priorities have already been surveyed. About 120,000 hectares have already been restored for cultivation. Not only the state is working on this issue, but business is also involved," he said.
In addition, he noted, 18,000 km of infrastructure have been cleared of mines and more than 12,000 homes of Ukrainian citizens have been checked for mines.