by Lieutenant Colonel Sergio Pashinsky, Ukraine MAC
Russian deminer navigating a rough terrain.
There is no doubt that the Ukraine is a mine and UXO affected country.1
This fact is well known but still not recognized by the international mine
action (MA) community. Perhaps the biggest issue is that the Ukrainian
government has not acknowledged this national challenge, and consequently,
international assistance has not been given.
Mine Action Principles
The three principles required for the development of the national MA program
are currently being identified. First, authorities have recognized the mine
and UXO problem in the Crimea region and allocated a considerable sum from
the state budget for its solution. Also, some other Ukrainian regions are
being investigated to define the most hazardous ones. Second, having learned
from the international experience of Azerbaijan, Croatia and other
countries, the Ukrainian Mine Action Information Center (UMAIC) is working
with the Humanitarian Demining Center (HDC) and the legal bureau on a draft
of the National MA legislation and implementing the International Mine
Action Standards (IMAS) for further domestic and international activity.
Third, an infrastructure (though still uncoordinated) is gradually being
designed on various issues of national MA.
A number of significant NGOs play a key role in the Ukrainian MA program.
These include the HDC of the Ministry of Defense (MOD), UMAIC, the Emergency
Ministry (EM) and the State Department for Veterans.
Humanitarian Demining Center (HDC of MOD)
HDC of MOD has actively operated since September 1, 2001, as a source of
qualified manpower for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and mine clearance
operations in the Ukraine and abroad and as an epicenter of new demining
technology and methodology research. This organization is tightly linked to
domestic structures and analogous centers involved in MA abroad. As a
result, the most recent rotation of the deminers trained according to
international MA standards has been relocated to South Lebanon. Upon
launching an internal national MA program, the Center could become a
coordinating body for the entire program.
The Ukrainian Mine Action Information Center (UMAIC)
UMAIC is another key organization involved with MA in the Ukraine. Their
principle operations include keeping contacts with the international MA
community, disseminating information to concerned organizations, providing
necessary assessments and analysis to decision makers, coordinating the
efforts of NGOs, and launching initiatives on MA issues.
The Emergency Ministry (EM)
EM has been officially assigned to perform in the Crimea EOD and demining
program. Mine and UXO incidents (except criminal cases) have become a part
of EM’s routine activity. Additionally, a brand new issue of the coastal
waters safety program involves demining the bottom of coastal waters as well
as demining and clearing coastal areas. As a bridging issue (along with the
previously mentioned tasks), EM implemented a Mine Awareness Education
project, starting in the regions defined as most hazardous. EM has its own
system of courses, and through the Ministry of Education, EM plans to
implement mine safety lessons in the secondary school program.
The State Department for Veterans
The State Department for Veterans has also become involved with the
Ukrainian MA program by taking care of mine victims and establishing a
research group to compile and maintain a database on mine victims and
survivors. Accordingly, this group will develop a national victim assistance
The Ukraine has approximately 10.1 million stockpiled AP mines that were
inherited after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In March 1998, the
Ukraine destroyed 101,028 PFM-1 landmines from the Ukrainian Army arsenals
on the testing ground near Kiev. Based on that experience, the Ukraine has
become concerned with environmental safety during such a process. Under the
Framework Arrangement (Ukraine-Canada), the focal point (and simultaneously,
the stumbling block) is a lack of proper and safe technology, so the
estimates for destruction costs cannot be made confidently until the
technology for PFM destruction is clearly determined.
As the participation of Ukrainian specialists in domestic and overseas EOD
operations is fairly obvious, there should be organizations and companies
here to run the system of selecting, training, supplying and managing
demining manpower. At the moment, there are several organizations that have
already started similar activities. Among them are UkrOboronService (UOS),
the Engineer-Veterans Demining Group (EVDG), the Peacekeeping Veterans
Demining Team (PVDT) and Strum Demining Detachment (SDD), who are all
currently prepared to bid in tenders.
Engineers prepare to burn vegetation
in a suspected area to make clearance easier and expose trip wire
The future of MA in the Ukraine looks promising. In fact, legislation
regarding Ukrainian MA should be implemented in late 2002. Looking forward
to late 2002, we see the Ukrainian MA legislation taking effect. On the
foundation of these existing elements of a future integral system, we will
be able to build the national program. Furthermore, this program can be
immediately put into action, thanks to such a long-term (and even a bit
subtle) preparative phase. We also foresee future cooperation with the UN,
European Union (EU), OSSE, a group related to the EM, and other
*All photos courtesy of UMAIC
Lt. Col. Sergio Pashinsky, Director
Ukrainian Mine Action Information Center
67 Soborna str. 204
1. For more information on the extent of the landmine situation in the
Ukraine, please refer to the 1999–2001 Landmine Monitor reports.