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'There was a bang': Ukrainian civilians learning the hard way that Russian mines will take years to clear

We stayed within a small area of safe ground. It’s littered to the right and left with mines.

We were following Vadym Shvydchenko along a dirt road in rural Kyiv, near Makariv. He wanted to show us his truck, which was struck by two landmines last month.

It is still there, where he was thrown through a windscreen.

“The bang was the first, and there was a hole here. Vadym says that the cabin door was jammed and that it wouldn’t open. “And then, on the second explosion, I was thrown forward through the windshield because it was blown out.”

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“And then, they found four mines there, and they were arranged in checkerboard patterns.”

Vadym might not have survived in a smaller vehicle.

His truck was his livelihood and he has been unable work since.

Learn more about Ukraine

Civilians discovered the hard way that this area was contaminated with munitions, and they no longer travel to it.

This is the overall picture for Ukraine.

Covered in mines and munitions, fields that should be planted with wheat are not allowed to grow.

The Halo Trust, a charity that helps landmine victims, has informed Sky News that Ukraine is the most dangerous place in the world.

“The Ukraine is the most dangerous environment for civilians because of the amount of artillery and rocketry used, landmines, and scatterable munitions being used. These munitions have been used by the Russians on an extremely indiscriminate basis,” stated Major-General James Cowan, Halo CEO.

After the April mass exodus from Russia‘s troops in Kyiv, it quickly became apparent that much of the ground was heavily contaminated by threats to civilians.

Halo has relocated many of its deminers from Donbas to clear areas around the capital.

We were part of a group of miners working in a minefield close to Makariv. Locals reported that there were Russian tanks and soldiers around the recreation area.

“I don’t see any safe space in this field at all.” One deminer, Olexsandr Popchuk, tells us.

This area is only 100 meters from civil homes.

Many people are still haunted by the March arrival of Russian troops.

Olga Kyrylova (one woman) shows us her front gate, which is peppered with bullet holes.

“They drove around here and shot at every home, so nobody could escape. She said that if anyone came out, they would kill you.

Before the Russian soldiers invaded their home, they gave the family an hour to go.

“I’m still afraid. Olga says, “I’m still scared.

She describes how she has lost weight and struggled to communicate because of stress.

The mine clearance sounds are clearly exacerbating her trauma. It won’t stop anytime soon.

It is a tedious task to search the grass for trip wires or mines. Many Russian shells are not detonated and remain in the ground. The two teams that are demining the field will need to work together for two years in order to complete the task.

This is only a small part of the country that has been contaminated by explosives.

These threats prevent Ukrainians from returning to their daily lives before the war. It could take many decades to get rid of them all.

Major-General Cowan stated that “I would like to emphasize that the British are also playing an important role in supporting humanitarian demining in Ukraine.” Foreign secretary approved significant money increases for the work in Ukraine that will save lives and help restore Ukrainian livelihoods.

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