This delay is due to the possibility of unexploded ordnance. The area was a scene of heavy fighting, and it remains littered by anti-personnel/anti-tank mines left behind by Russian troops.
It will take many years to clear eastern Ukraine of these threats. However, as the country attempts to restore power, water, and heating to the towns and villages that were cut off by the war, demining teams must prioritize.
“First, it concerns critical infrastructure objects,” KostyantynApalkov, head for the demining unit of the State Emergency Service (Donetsk) region stated Monday (20 March).
These are objects like power lines, gas pipes, and water pipes. They also include settlements where people live.
He spoke as eight de-miners, wearing protective clothing and equipped with metal detectors, moved slowly along a track beneath the damaged power cables to search for any items that could damage repair workers or their equipment.
This is where the most intense fighting is taking place; artillery fire from distant frontlines is almost constant.
While demining is essential, it slows down the restoration of key services. This highlights the problem Ukraine faces when trying to restore some normality to areas that have been abandoned.
Since February 2013, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 4,000 people have called emergency services in Donetsk to report the danger of unexploded ordnance.
The war toll is evident everywhere you drive, 30km (18.64 mi) from Sloviansk. The only way to get there is via muddy roads, where unexploded missiles and fields protrude from the ground, and burnt out tanks litter the ditches.
After about an hour of minesweeping, Apalkov’s crew locates three antipersonnel mines near an abandoned car. The mines are remotely blown up, and the electricity repair crew can finally get to work.
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