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US pledges $89 million to help Ukraine clear land mines left by Russian forces

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States says it will provide $89 million to Ukraine for removing land mines put in place by Russian forces.

The money will support 100 demining teams and also help provide training and equipment necessary to clear land mines and unexploded ordnance for a year.

“Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine has littered massive swaths of the country with land mines, unexploded ordnance, and improvised explosive devices,” the U.S. State Department said on August 9 in a statement.

The “grotesque” use of improvised explosive devices by the Russians in Ukraine was previously only associated with Islamic State in Syria, the statement said.

“These explosive hazards block access to fertile farmland, delay reconstruction efforts, prevent displaced communities from returning to their homes, and continue to kill and maim innocent Ukrainian civilians,” it said.

The Russians left a large number of mines and other explosive devices behind when they were forced to withdraw from northern Ukraine after the failure of the initial thrust of the invasion to seize Kyiv.

Since late March Kyiv has defused around 160,000 mines, but some 5 million Ukrainians still live in areas threatened by bombs planted by the Russians, according to the State Department.