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Ukraine, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: In February 2004, the European Commission initiated the second phase of its project to prepare for the destruction of Ukraine’s 6 million PFM mines, aimed at determining the best option for destruction of the mines. In 2003, Ukrainian deminers cleared 52,000 mines and UXO, most of them left from World War II. Explosions at ammunition depots in Artemovsk in October 2003 and Novobohdanovka in May 2004 spread UXO over a wide area. During clearance operations between May and July 2004 in the Novobohdanovka area, 187,496 UXO were collected. Ukranian deminers participated in clearance operations in Iraq in 2004. In January 2004, a group of NGOs decided to establish a Ukrainian Mine Action Coordination Center. In May 2004, two meetings, a national seminar and an international roundtable, were held to discuss stockpile destruction and treaty implementation. Ukraine’s moratorium on export of antipersonnel mines formally lapsed at the end of 2003, but government officials have stated that it is still in effect.

Key developments since 1999: The government of Ukraine has been working with donors and others in the mine action community to address the linked issues of destruction of 6 million stockpiled PFM mines and the process of ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty. In 2002, the European Commission launched a project to prepare for the destruction of the PFM mines. The first phase assessing the condition of the mines concluded in mid-2003. Between July 2002 and May 2003, Ukraine cooperated with NATO’s Maintenance and Supply Agency to complete the destruction of 405,000 stockpiled PMN mines. Ukraine ratified CCW Amended Protocol II on 12 September 1999. From 1992 to the end of 2003, Ukrainian demining teams destroyed more than 450,000 mines and UXO Since 2000, Ukranian deminers have participated in international operations in Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, and Iraq. From 2000 to mid-May 2004, 73 new mine/UXO casualties were reported.

Mine Ban Policy

Ukraine signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 24 February 1999, but has not yet ratified. The principal reason for the lack of ratification remains unchanged; Ukraine is seeking resources and technical assistance to destroy it stockpile of PFM antipersonnel mines within the deadline required by the treaty. An official remarked in February 2004 that a draft law containing a clause that conditions the ratification to the completion of the destruction of PFM stockpiles was rejected by the international community.[1] The government is apparently waiting for an official guarantee from donors regarding technical and financial support for mine destruction.[2]

During the Fifth Meeting of State Parties in September 2003, Ukraine stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted two draft regulatory decrees, “on establishment of intergovernmental group and action plan to solve the problem of old and surplus ammunition destruction in Ukraine and coordination of national implementation of the Ottawa Convention in Ukraine” and “on ban of antipersonnel mine transfers from Ukraine.”[3]

Ukraine participated in the Ottawa Process as an observer and has since attended every annual Meeting of States Parties, also as an observer, except in 2001. It has been present for all the intersessional Standing Committee meetings. Ukraine has attended regional landmine meetings held in Lithuania (June 2004), Belarus (December 2003), Russia (November 2002), Croatia (October 2002), Armenia (October 2002), Greece (October 2001), Russia (June 2001), Poland (June 2001), Belarus (April 2000), Hungary (February 2001), Belarus (February 2000), Georgia (December 1999), and Croatia (June 1999). Ukraine has voted in favor of every annual UN General Assembly resolution in support of the Mine Ban Treaty since 1996, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 on 8 December 2003.

Ukraine is a State Party to Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), having ratified on 21 September 1999. It attended the Fifth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in November 2003 and submitted a national annual report as required by Article 13 of the protocol on 15 September 2003.

On January 2004, a coalition of Ukrainian NGOs created the Ukrainian Mine Action Coordination Center (UMACC). The establishment of the UMACC is supported by the Ukrainian National Center for Euro Atlantic integration, which was created in 2002 after the disbanding of the State commission for defense-industrial complex (SCDIC).[4] UMACC aims to establish itself as the national expert body on the implementation of mine action, the Mine Ban Treaty and the CCW, and on destruction projects for PFM mines and small arms and light weapons.[5]

Several seminars and workshops have been held in Kiev to discuss stockpile destruction and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. On 17 May 2004, the Atlantic Council of Ukraine and UMACC cooperated with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Embassy of Canada to hold a seminar in Kiev on the subject; the results of the meeting were put into a letter to the National Security Council with proposals for mine action in Ukraine.[6] On 26 May 2004, governments from around the region, as well as representatives of international agencies, participated in a roundtable discussion on treaty implementation. Ukraine has held similar meetings in previous years, including in February 2003 and February 2001.

In June and July 2003, the UNDP and ICBL-Ukraine organized joint mine action events in Kiev, Khmelnitskiy, Vinnitca and Odessa within the framework of the International UN Youth Summit and International Social Action “Caravan of Peace 2003.” The events aimed to increase the level of awareness of youth, society, specialists and representatives of mass media on the issues of landmines, the Mine Ban Treaty and conditions for its ratification in Ukraine.[7] In October 2000, the Ukrainian representative of the ICBL hosted the annual regional Landmine Monitor meeting in Yalta.

Production, Transfer and Use

During the Soviet-era, Ukraine produced components for antipersonnel mines, but the government has repeatedly stated that there has been no production since independence.[8] Ukraine’s 1999 moratorium on export of antipersonnel mines was formally in place through 2003.[9] In June 2003, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that it was not necessary to extend the moratorium as the government intended to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty in the near future.[10] In May 2004, the government stated that the moratorium is still in effect and will stay in effect until Ukraine ratifies the Mine Ban Treaty.[11]

The Ministry of Defense states that antipersonnel mines have not been used on Ukrainian territory since World War II.[12] Ukrainian police continue to record individual cases of criminal use of landmines. In 2003, the Ministry of Emergency Situations reported about 34 incidents of criminal use of mines and explosive devices.[13]

Stockpiling and Destruction

Ukraine inherited a stockpile of 6.35 million antipersonnel mines, including 404,903 PMN-type mines and 5,947,596 PFM-type mines, from the Soviet Union. Destruction of the PMN mines took place between from July 2002 to May 2003. Long-standing plans to destroy the PFM stockpile have proved more problematic.

Destruction of PFM-1 Mines

The requirement to destroy almost 6 million PFM-type antipersonnel mines is the key obstacle preventing Ukraine from ratifying the Mine Ban Treaty. PFM mines are believed to deteriorate in storage and there is a possibility that toxic gas will be released if the mine is destroyed by open detonation. Ukraine depends on international support for an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally safe destruction of the mines.[14]

In 2002, the European Commission (EC) launched a project to prepare for the destruction of the 6 million stockpiled PFM mines. The first phase assessed the condition of the mines, which are stored at the 13 storage sites around the country, and concluded in mid-2003 that the condition of mines was good and that no spontaneous detonations of the weapon were likely to occur.[15] The assessment recommended against handling and transporting the PFM mines due to time and cost and stated its preference for the construction of either destruction facilities at the storage site or mobile destruction facilities.[16]

The second phase took place from February to August 2004 and focused on determining the best option for destruction of the mines.[17] On the basis of the findings and recommendations of this second phase, a tender would be launched to destroy the mines and destruction could start in early 2005.[18] On 8 March 2004, during a workshop on landmines and explosive remnants of war held at the OSCE Headquarters in Vienna, the EC and Ukrainian officials confirmed plans to finalize the second phase, take a decision on the method of destruction and organize tender procedures, establish the necessary facility or facilities, and start destruction by early 2005.[19] Phase Two was still not completed as of September 2004.

The 2004 EC Annual Work Program for antipersonnel landmines proposed $3.535 million for reduction of antipersonnel landmine stockpiles in Ukraine.[20]

Destruction of PMN Mines

During the first Ukraine-NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) project, more than 400,000 PMN antipersonnel mines from 19 separate storage sites were destroyed at the Donetsk State Chemical Plant in southeast Ukraine from July 2002 to May 2003.[21] The NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund financed the necessary refurbishment of buildings and installation of equipment.[22] Canada served as the lead donor nation and Hungary, Poland, and the Netherlands also provided funding. The NATO Trust Fund collected $800,000 for this project.[23] The destruction lines were fully operational by September 2002, destroying approximately 1,100-2,000 PMN mines per day. The destruction project was completed more than three months ahead of time, in May 2003.[24]

Surplus Ammunition

In total, more than 2.5 million tons of ammunition is believed to require urgent destruction between 2004 and 2010.[25] In March 2003, the NATO Partnership for Peace Program planned a destruction project to eliminate 130,000 tons of ammunition within the next six to ten years.[26] Many ammunition depots are overstocked and located in immediate proximity to densely populated areas. On 6 May 2004, an ammunition depot caught fire at Novobohdanovka in Zaporizhya region causing 92,000 tons of ammunition to explode.[27] The explosions sprayed debris and shells several kilometers away from the depot, destroying over 300 homes and buildings in six villages within 40 kilometers of the explosion site.[28] A similar incident occurred in Artemovsk on 10 October 2003.[29] Minister of Defense Eugene Marchuk remarked that there 184 similar arms depots in Ukraine that are overfilled by 110 to 120 percent.[30]

Mine Action

Ukraine is still affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) dating from World War II. In 2003, 2,400 emergencies, including operations involving demining or explosive ordnance disposal, were reported. A total of nearly 52,000 mines and UXO were cleared.[31] From independence in 1992 to the end of 2003, Ukrainian demining teams destroyed more than 450,000 mines and UXO.[32]

Demining teams from the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Defense continued in 2003 to implement the state mine clearance program in the Crimea at an annual cost of $16,000. The government provided approximately $500,000 for coastal mine clearance on the Kerch peninsula.[33]

After the May 2004 Novobohdanovka explosion, a humanitarian demining operation was organized in the districts around the depot and a public information campaign on national and regional level was launched.[34] On the first day of clearance, more than more than 950 UXO were removed and destroyed.[35] Between May and July 2004, the Ukrainian Humanitarian Demining Task Force collected 149,758 UXO in the Novobohdanovka area, while the Ministry of Emergency Situation collected 18,871 UXO and the Ministry of Defense collected 18,867 UXO.[36]

Ukrainian deminers continue to participate in UN peacekeeping operations abroad. In August 2004, specialists of the Ukrainian Army started demining operations in Iraq.[37] The Ukrainian Army’s Third Engineer Battalion has conducted demining and survey operations, as well as house and road construction and medical assistance, in South Lebanon since January 2001, as part of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon. In 2000, Ukranian deminers began participating in international operations in Sierra Leone and Kosovo.

Landmine/UXO Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In 2003, four new mine and UXO casualties were reported in Ukraine; two people were killed and two injured.[38] This represents a significant decrease from the 20 new mine/UXO casualties (seven killed and 13 injured) reported in 2002, 18 new casualties (14 killed and four injured) in 2001, and 17 (two killed and 15 injured) in 2000. The majority of casualties appear to be due to UXO.[39] In 2004, UMACC recorded 14 new mine and UXO casualties to 17 May; seven people were killed.[40]

The total number of mine casualties in Ukraine is not known, although estimates range as high as 80,000 mine survivors among 300,000 disabled war veterans.[41]

In accordance with the national law for veterans and persons with disabilities, Ukraine provides financial support for medical rehabilitation in sanatoriums, and provides for a package of social services including transportation, housing, healthcare, and free delivery of food and medication to war veterans.[42] Since 2000, sanatoriums have reported assisting over 3,000 mine survivors each year.[43] In July 2003, the rate of pensions for disabled veterans was increased by ten percent. However, pensions are reportedly still too low, at less than half the official minimum wage.[44]

In May 1999, a Special Council for the Disabled was created with representatives from the relevant ministries and associations working for persons with disabilities.[45] Each year the President signs new decrees to improve the social protection of persons with disabilities and participates in activities on the International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December.

One mine survivor from Ukraine participated in the Raising the Voices training in Geneva in February 2004.

[1] Statement of Volodymyr Dziub, Head of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 12 February 2004.
[2] Statement of Vitaliy Shved, UMACC Expert, to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 24 June 2004.
[3] Statement by Ukraine to the Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, 18 September 2004.
[4] Ukraine–NATO League report, Defence Express (news agency), January 2004.
[5] UMACC Report, 1 July 2004.
[6] UMACC, Press Release, Kiev, May 2004; Letter of State Experts to the Secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine, 20 May 2004.
[7] ICBL-Ukraine, Report to UNDP, Kiev, 2 August 2003.
[8] Report of the Interagency Working Group on Mine Action to “Ottawa Convention: Ukraine’s Participation” conference, Kiev, 11 February 2003.
[9] Order of the Prime Minister of Ukraine, No. 426, 22 March 1999; Report of the Interagency Working Group on Mine Action to “Ottawa Convention: Ukraine’s Participation” conference, Kiev, 11 February 2003.
[10] Statement by Vladimir Dzyub, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the meeting of mine action experts, organized by ICBL-Ukraine, UNDP, Atlantic Council of Ukraine, Kiev, 3 June 2003.
[11] Statement by Elena Syrota, Mine Action Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Conference on Implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, Kiev, 17 May 2004.
[12] Statement by Vadim Kovalskiy, Chief of Engineers Department, Ministry of Defense, to regional mine action seminar in Vilnius, Lithuania, 8 June 2004.
[13] Ministry of Emergency Situations Annual Report, at www.mns.gov.ua .
[14] Statement of Vitaliy Shved, UMACC, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 24 June 2004.
[15] Statement of Peter Krejsa, Head of the EC Experts Team to Ukraine, to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 12 February 2004.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Statement of Vitaliy Shved, UMACC, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 24 June 2004.
[20] EU, Press Release IP/04/388, Brussels, 25 March 2004.
[21] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Press Release, Kiev, 10 July 2002.
[22] NATO Update, “Landmine Project closing ceremony in Ukraine,” 27 May 2003.
[23] Ibid.; Presentation by Canada, to Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 6 February 2003.
[24] Statement by Volodymyr Dziub, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 6 February 2003; NATO Update, “Landmine Project closing ceremony in Ukraine,” 27 May 2003; “NATO support for destruction of PMN mines in Ukraine,” Defense Express (news agency), 25 December 2002.
[25] Eugen Marchuk, Minister of Defence, quoted in Narodna Armiya (newspaper), July 2004.
[26] NATO Update, Press Release, 7 April 2004.
[27] “Ammunition depot burns in Zaporishshya Oblast,” UNIAN (newspaper), Kiev, 6 May 2004.
[28] “Ukraine: Explosion of Ammunition Depot”, IFRC Information Bulletin, no. 02/2004.
[29] “Ammunition depots blow up in Artemovsk City of Donetsk Oblast,” UNIAN (newspaper), Kiev, October 2003.
[30] Yevhn Marchuk, Minister of Defense, quoted in “Catastrophe in Zaproishsya Oblast proved that army’s acute problems realized only in case of accidents,” UNIAN (newspaper), Kiev, 7 May 2004.
[31] Ministry of Emergency Situations, “Annual Report 2003.” The Ministry of Emergency Situations demining teams cleared 12,000 mines and UXO, and 77 teams from the Ministry of Defense cleared 37,199 mines and UXO.
[32] Ministry of Defense, Press Release, March 2004, at www.mil.gov.ua .
[33] Ministry of Emergency Situations, Information Report, July 2004; Transimpex Information Report, July 2004.
[34] Ibid.
[35] “Explosions at arms depot in Melytopol district have stopped,” UNIAN (newspaper), 12 May 2004, Kiev.
[36] Ministry of Emergency Services, Press Release, July 2004.
[37] Ministry of Defense, Press Release, March 2004.
[38] Ministry of Emergency Services, “Annual Report.”
[39] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 548; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 586; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 846.
[40] UMACC Report, Kiev, 17 May 2004.
[41] UMACC, Press Release, 28 January 2004; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 846.
[42] “War veterans suggest delaying reform,” The Day (newspaper), Kiev, 28 October 2003.
[43] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 548; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 586; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 846.
[44] “Pensions of limited abilities,” The Day, 16 March 2004.
[45] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 790.