Written by Wessel Meijer
Edited by Piotr Kosik
Supervised by Ginevra Bertamini
In 1997, the international community signed the Ottawa Treaty as a response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the global proliferation of anti-personnel mines. They agreed on banning the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of anti-personnel mines (International Committee of Red Cross, 1997, p.1). Twenty-six years later, these explosive remnants continue causing around 5000 casualties per year. This number is significantly rising (Landminefree, n.d., para.3). In 2020, Syria was most affected by anti-personnel mines with at least 2729 casualties. The following leading countries in this metric are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, and Yemen (Clarke, 2021; Humanity & Inclusion, 2020).
However, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the latter has reached the top position of the most mined country globally (Boffey, 2023, para. 1). The extensive use of anti-vehicle mines and boobytraps has further exacerbated the situation. According to estimates, the lives of at least six million Ukrainians are under threat by minefields (Vakulina, 2023, para. 1). The purpose of this paper is to dive deeper into the strategic use of landmines in the Russo-Ukrainian war, along with examining the resulting lessons for the European defence to use advanced technology in cleaning minefields.