Protesters call out West over Ukraine’s use of mines on civilians
A group of protesters gathered on Wednesday at the embassies of the US and France in Moscow to protest the use of scatterable mines by NATO-backed Ukraine.
The protesters taped images of the mines to the sidewalk around the embassies. The stickers featured a QR code leading to a website explaining what the PFM-1 mines are and accusing Ukraine of dropping them on cities.
The munitions regularly maim civilians, according to the website, which shows photos of some of the victims.
The demonstration in front of the American embassy included activists lying immobile on the ground, apparently as a symbol of the casualties inflicted by the mines, according to images from the scene.
The PFM-1 is designed to deny access to an area to enemy foot soldiers and is usually deployed in large quantities. The munitions are generally either dropped from an aircraft or disbursed from a ground-fired cluster projectile. They scatter while gliding down and become armed after hitting the ground. Each mine contains a pressure-activated fuse and a small explosive charge, which can blow off a person’s foot or hand.
The design was reportedly influenced by the US-made BLU-43 Dragontooth mine, which works the same way and was used during the Vietnam War. The Soviet version is nicknamed ‘petal’.
Ukraine has large stockpiles of Soviet weapons, including an estimated six million PFM-1 mines as of 2011. The country was supposed to dispose of its stocks of the mine to comply with its international obligations.
However, Kiev has allegedly deployed a portion of the remaining mines to harass cities such as Donetsk, the capital of the Moscow-allied Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Ukrainian officials have denied using the mines and have accused Russian troops of dropping them.
DPR officials regularly post warnings on social media, instructing civilians to look out for the maiming munitions and to call demolition experts upon finding them.