Ukraine will require at least 10 years to remove the mines that the Russian occupation army has planted on its territory. James Wilson writes that 30% of the land in Ukraine is hazardous to walk on.
In a report released on 26 April, the international think-tank GLOBSEC stated that Ukraine is the world’s largest mined region. UNDP published a report on April 4 stating that “Ukraine is now one of the largest minefields in the world.” The report stated that “more 14 million people” were at risk of being blown away by mines.
Before Ukraine, however, this terrible record belonged to a country that was friendly to Ukraine. The soil of this country is full of hundreds of thousands if not even millions of the exact same Russian-made landmines. Their number is still growing today, thanks to Russia.
Azerbaijan liberated its occupied territory of Karabakh by 2020. After Moscow put pressure on Baku, the Russian army has now taken over the guarding of the separatist enclave in this region. It is populated only by Armenians after the ethnic cleansing that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. All of the liberated Azerbaijani land was strewn with mines that have killed or injured more than 300 civilians including children.
The Armenians planted mines in order to stop Azerbaijanis who were expelled from these lands 30 years ago. The British newspaper Express reported that “the Armenians made their own mines, but used Russian-made mines.”
The Russian military continues to help Azerbaijan sow these “seeds” of death on its territory. In a letter to the UN Secretary General, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan stated that Armenia continues to create new battle positions on Azerbaijani territory, where…a contingent of Russian Federation is temporarily stationed; it performs engineering and fortification works and, in this context, plants a great number of mines.
According to an report from the international group Landmine Monitor 2022 published in November, the presence a Russian military force “has resulted in a restriction” on the demining activities of the Azerbaijani.
Azerbaijani sappers have discovered new mines, which were not laid during hostilities in 2020. Their casings have the production date 2021 stenciled on them.
What is the origin of these mines?
Yashar Aliyev was the Azerbaijani representative at the UN. In a Letter sent to the Secretary General of the UN in February 2023, he stated: “… The Armenian company Ayk-Mek has been producing weapons and ammunition, including landmines, for the Armenian Armed Forces for many years. This company, in particular, has been responsible for the mines detected by Azerbaijan on its territory as of August 2022.
The company, which is located in Yerevan, uses the old Soviet “Electron”, but does not belong to Armenia. It works for the Ministry of Defense of this country. According to Armenian sources this is a Russian company.
The Russian government published a order on 02.11.2002 “On the Signing Protocols Between the Government of the Russian Federation, and the Government of the Republic of Armenia regarding the Transfer of Property owned by the Republic of Armenia into the Russian Federation”. The Armenian service of Radio Liberty reported in that year: “Even after signing the final agreement for the transfer of properties, neither the price nor the list of enterprises are clearly specified.” Six years later, Regnum , a Russian media outlet, reported that “the Armenian companies transferred to Russia in accordance with the debt-for-equity agreement will be involved in implementing military-economic agreements within the CSTO Interstate Commission on Military-Economic Cooperation” (ICMEC). Ivan Materov announced this during a press briefing in Yerevan. The Business Council established by the decision of the ICMEC comprised 42 companies-representatives…”. The “Elektron’ plant was amongst them.
How did Russia acquire the mine production facility? The mine production plant was given to Russia by Robert Kocharyan the Armenian president, who the Kremlin dictator’s speaker called ” an excellent friend of Russia“. This friendship is growing: A month after the full-scale attack on Ukraine began, the parliamentary block “Hayastan”, led by Kocharyan , condemned “blatant phenomena” of anti-Russian feeling in some countries. In August 2022, leaflets with the “Hayastan bloc” logo, the letter Z, and inscriptions:”Crimea Is Russia” were posted all over Yerevan. Donetsk, Ukraine. Luhansk, a part of Russia. Mariupol, Russia. Zaporizhzhya, Russia is also known as Zaporizhzhya. Kherson is Russia.
The blood of Ukrainians and Azerbaijanis civilians was spilled by Russia and its allie Armenia.
The commonality between these threats is not an accident. Both countries oppose prorussian separatism – Ukraine in Donbass, Crimea and Azerbaijan’s Karabakh. Ukraine represents Europe’s strongest defense against Moscow’s aggressive growth; Azerbaijan provides the EU with energy resources, compensating its refusal of Russian gas.
Baku can help Kyiv in a number of ways, not just in clearing mines. Since three years ago, Azerbaijani officials have promoted the issue at international organizations. They also defend the interests of countries affected by mines.
Baku has gained valuable legal experience in this area in the years 2021-2023. This is especially important when you consider the declaration made by President Zelensky on December 8, 2022, “I’m sure it will be one of the charges brought against Russia in the future for aggression – specifically for mine terrorism”. Azerbaijan, too, describes the threat the same way: In November 2022, Yashar Aliyev’s representative addressed the UN Secretary-General and said: “Armenia has to stop mine terrorism”.
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