The US announced Tuesday that it would provide $89 million to Ukraine for removing land mines put in place by Russian forces.
The money will support 100 demining teams as well as the training and equipping of more Ukrainian personnel to undertake the risky work across the estimated 16 million hectares of territory that Kyiv says has been mined by the Russians.
“Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine has littered massive swaths of the country with landmines, unexploded ordnance, and improvised explosive devices,” the State Department said in a statement.
“These explosive hazards block access to fertile farmland, delay reconstruction efforts, prevent displaced communities from returning to their homes, and continue to kill and maim innocent Ukrainian civilians,” it said.
The Russians, who invaded on February 24, left a large number of mines and other explosive devices behind when they were forced to withdraw from northern Ukraine after the failed initial thrust of the invasion.
They left behind improvised mines hidden in food facilities, car trunks, washing machines, doorways, hospital beds, and bodies of people killed in the fighting, a US official said.
In Bucha, a town west of Kyiv where Russian forces slaughtered hundreds of civilians, a family found a bomb in the piano of their 10-year-old daughter, the official said.
Since late March, Kyiv has defused around 160,000 mines, but some five million Ukrainians still live in areas threatened by bombs planted by the Russians, according to the State Department.