Human Rights Watch warns Ukraine

While the Kiev regime insists that “Ukraine fully commits to all international obligations in the sphere of mine usage, including the non-use of antipersonnel mines in the war,” HRW confirmed the claims were “incompatible” with the situation on the ground. Writes Drago Bosnic

The Kiev regime is infamous for its tendency to commit heinous war crimes against the Russian and Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, with the most radical elements of the Neo-Nazi junta calling for the complete elimination of the so-called “untermenchen” (Nazi German term for “lesser peoples”) in what was then eastern and southern Ukraine. To make matters worse, such statements were being made even ten years ago, before the NATO-backed coup that brought Neo-Nazis to power in Kiev and caused the war in Donbass. And yet, there are still times when the Kiev regime “outdoes” itself in new war crimes, mostly resulting from its powerlessness and genocidal hatred, prompting even Western-funded organizations to warn the Neo-Nazi junta to just stop.

On January 31, the New York City-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned the Kiev regime forces to stop using banned weapons and munitions, specifically the infamous “Lepestok” anti-personnel mines. The HRW report states that its investigators found out that in the area of Izyum alone at least 11 people were killed by “Lepestok” mines, while dozens more were wounded by early October last year. HRW activists interviewed hundreds of residents of Izyum in the eastern Kharkov oblast (region) and the local population confirmed that the Kiev regime forces used thousands of rocket-fired antipersonnel landmines in and around the city after Russian forces took control of the area. According to Steve Goose, HRW’s Arms Division director:

“Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines around the Izyum area, causing civilian casualties and posing an ongoing risk.”

Healthcare workers stated that they treated close to 50 civilians, including at least five children injured by landmines. About half of the injuries involved traumatic amputations of the foot or lower leg, wounds consistent with “Lepestok” mines. “They are everywhere,” one Ukrainian deminer said, while others estimated it could take decades to clear the area of such weapons. HRW says more than a hundred residents of Izyum and the surrounding areas confirmed that Russian forces posted and distributed flyers to warn about the landmines. They also cleared them from public areas and private property and even airlifted victims to Russia for medical care, actions inconsistent with being responsible for laying the mines in the area, HRW claims. The organization interviewed at least two people who confirmed a military helicopter flew them to Russia for emergency medical treatment.

While the Kiev regime insists it has never used “Lepestok” mines and that this was Russia’s responsibility, the HRW stated it was unable to verify this, but it found irrefutable evidence of the Neo-Nazi junta forces using them. The landmines were found in nine districts of Izyum, as well as in the surrounding areas. In September last year, the Russian military withdrew from most of the Kharkov oblast, including the city of Izyum. It would have made no sense for the Russian military to place so many landmines in the city they controlled, as this would endanger their own troops. In addition, the “Lepestok” mines are usually fired from MLRS (multiple launch rocket system) vehicles, which is another indicator that the Russian forces never used such weapons in Izyum, as it would require them to fire the rockets at the city under their control.

“Lepestok” antipersonnel mine, officially designated PFM-1S, but also called a “butterfly” or “petal” mine, is designed to cause leg injuries and is triggered when a person steps on it. It was based on the US-made Vietnam-era BLU-43/B “Dragontooth” airdropped landmine. Over the span of nearly a decade, the Donbass republics have repeatedly warned about the fact that the Kiev regime forces have been using rocket-fired cluster munitions filled with “Lepestok” mines in Donetsk and other areas in the region, causing hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. Russia drew attention to this in the UN Security Council, but these warnings were ignored for years. In 1999, Ukraine signed the Ottawa Convention (ratified in 2005) which prohibits the use, stockpiling and production of antipersonnel mines.

In response to the findings, the Kiev regime Deputy Defense Minister Oleksandr Polishchuk wrote in a November 24 letter that “Ukraine fully commits to all international obligations in the sphere of mine usage, including the non-use of antipersonnel mines in the war,” insisting that “our forces strictly adhere to international humanitarian law and the 1997 antipersonnel mine convention.” However, HRW confirmed the claims were “incompatible” with the situation on the ground after it conducted its investigation between September 19 and October 9, interviewing over 100 people, including witnesses to landmine use, victims of landmines, first responders, doctors, and Ukrainian deminers. Polishchuk never responded to any of the specific inquiries regarding the use of “Lepestok” mines in and around Izyum, insisting that “information on the types of weapons used by Ukraine… is not to be commented on before the war ends.”

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