Ryan Hendrickson, a decorated former US Army Special Forces engineer, highlights the severe extent of land mine proliferation in Ukraine, particularly by Russian forces. The sheer volume and complexity of these minefields, along with the lethal threat they pose, is far beyond anything he witnessed in Afghanistan, rendering the clearance work daunting and mentally exhausting.
- The number of land mines laid down in Ukraine, especially by Russian forces, is unprecedented. Hendrickson reports finding over 700 anti-tank mines in one field alone, though the actual number could be in the thousands.
- These mines have severely impeded any form of movement or advancement in the war zone, being labeled as the “biggest shaping factor” of the war. All routes, including farmlands, are mined or targeted by artillery.
- Hendrickson’s organization, the Tip of the Spear Landmine Removal, is focused on removing land mines and booby traps in areas where civilians are most at risk. However, the task is complicated by complex schemes aimed to trap and harm the de-mining crews.
- Experts suggest that complete de-mining in Ukraine might be an unachievable task due to the overwhelming volume of mines. They predict that these hidden threats will likely affect the Ukrainian population and impede recovery efforts for many years to come.
- The extent of the land mine problem has major implications for Ukraine’s military strategy. Top military officials have recognized the huge challenge that mines pose to the ongoing counteroffensive, potentially leading to a war of attrition that Ukraine cannot afford.