Russia using deadly banned 'Butterfly Mines' to maim & kill Ukrainians as thousands of explosives dropped on towns | The Sun

RUSSIA has been accused of using banned "Butterfly Mines" to maim and kill Ukrainians as new pictures show the explosives scattered around a town.

The toy-like devices are high explosive PFM-1 mines that can blown off limbs and leave people with fatal injuries – with the little bombs being dropped en masse from rockets, mortars or aircraft.

With their distinctive "butterfly" or "petal" shape – the light mines flutter down to earth like seeds from a tree before landing on the ground and becoming deadly traps.

It is believed a pressure of just 5kg can activate the mine – meaning even holding one in your hand could cause it to blow up.

And because of their plastic shell and unique shape, its warned the PFM-1 mines – also known as Green Parrots – are particularly appealing to children.

Photos released to The Sun Online by the Halo Trust – a mine clearance organisation championed by Princess Diana – show a large number of the killer devices in the town of Hrakove, near Kharkiv.


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The mines are hidden in the grass, scattered across park benches and left on roadsides.

One wrong move could see someone lose a leg – or potentially even worse.

Workers from the charity are now working tirelessly to clear the area – which remains a death trap until the tiny devices are removed, a process that could take years.

Ukrainian officials have reported multiple limb amputations from injuries sustained by these mines – including five children.

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Russia is believed to dropped the mines on the region last year to cover their retreat – something consistent with strategy its forces used in Afghanistan.

Banderivka – which is not her real name – is a deminer from Lviv who who has travelled back and forth from the UK to Ukraine to help with the clearance.

She said the Russians are using the highly insidious Butterfly Mines to cover their retreats – often attempting to cover them with light coverings of leaf litter to make them even harder to stop.

The PFM-1 mines dropped in the early days of the war – and still being found active, she explained.

And with the changing of the seasons, with falling leaves and melting snows the mines also become less obvious to see.

"Soldiers and civilians are still getting injured by these mines – the Russians sometimes cover them up as they retreat so we don't even see them ," said Banderivka, who was trained in mine clearance in Kosovo.

"When you see one – you know there around another 700 of them around you."

She explained Ukrainian troops often use low tech solutions such as throwing rocks, sticks or even firing basic shotguns at them to clear the mines.

"The worst thing about them is kids are drawn to them – they look like a plastic toy on the ground – and sometimes they pick them up," she went on.

"Once you step on them you will easily lose your toes, or your heel – god forbid children touch them."

She urged the West to put pressure on Russia to stop its use of anti-personnel device like the Butterfly Mine – with the battlefields across Ukraine already likely to take years to clear.

British defence officials have also accused the Russians of using the mines in Ukraine.

But while Russia has been blamed – they in turn have accused Ukraine, particularly of using the devices in the breakaway Donetsk region.

Most of the sometimes decades-old explosive were manufactured in the Soviet Union – making it very hard to determine exactly the source of the weapons.

Ukraine has signed up to the Ottawa Treaty banning the horrific bombs and before the war vowed to scrap their stockpile – something Russia has refused to do.

And Kyiv has insisted they have "never considered" using the mines.

HALO Trust is an apolitical international organisation which works to demine countries after conflict.

Princess Diana famously worked alongside them following the bloody conflict in Angola.

HALO communications director Paul McCann told The Sun that butterfly mines remain explosive for a long time.

Live ones are still being found Afghanistan, posing a threat to innocent civilians even decades after the conflict ended there.

HALO deminers working in the Hrakov reported the streets littered with the deadly petal mines.

In southern Ukraine, the village of Mykolaiv used to have thousands of residents, but now due to the deadly petal mines scattered around, citizens have fled – leaving 120 people, according to Mr McCann.

“They look like toys, small plastic and shiny. Children could pick them up easily," he told The Sun Online.

“They flutter down like seedlings. There’s no safe way to walk around them.”

Sir Howard Morrison, a former Judge of the International Criminal Court at the Hague, kept his words about the usage of these mines concise.

He told The Sun Online: “The use of them is prohibited under international law and they could hardly have been deployed accidently.”

The use of the petal bombs is illegal, but innocent civilians are facing the consequences of cowardly actions.

Ukrainians are now training alongside organisations like HALO to demine their home country and begin the rebuilding process.

Denys joined HALO in 2018, and now is sponsored by the British government to work as a Ukrainian Minefield Supervisor.

“The first time I found a mine was in early 2018, it was an anti-vehicle mine. I had no hesitation or fear. I did everything in accordance with the drills I had been taught," He told The Sun Online.

“Everyone working as a deminer wants to find and make safe any explosive ordinance. They are not afraid, they are trained and ready for this.”

Clearing the amount of butterfly mines and other mines left across the Ukrainian landscape will cost about £30 billion, according to the world bank, and could take decades.

But Paul said if the international community bands together to fund the demining, they can apply the use of drones and remote armoured vehicles to get the job done.

Paul referenced a quote often said within HALO: “One day of fighting amounts to a month of mine clearance.”

Russia invaded Ukraine last February – a conflict which has devolved into a grinding, brutal war.

It is believed some 180,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Putin's botched invasion.

And millions of Ukrainian civilians have endured untold misery as the Russians stole their homes and left cities devastated.

Despite the bloodshed, Kyiv is still standing strong against the Russians with backing from the West.

Putin foolishly believed his forces would be welcomed into Ukraine as liberators.

But instead, the initial attack ended in a disaster which saw his forces devastated and thrown back to Russia.

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Kyiv continues to call for more Western support to help them defeat Putin.

The world is now awaiting to see if Ukraine will mount its long expected counter offensive, with much of the fiercest fighting currently centred around the city of Bakhmut.

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