4 types of landmines and their impact on the Russia-Ukraine war

4 types of landmines and their impact on the Russia-Ukraine war

Russia’s Use of Landmines in the Ukraine Conflict: A Deadly Strategy

Landmines in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has witnessed the deployment of landmines on a massive scale, leaving devastating consequences in their wake. Ukrainian officials have described the density of these minefields as “insane,” with reports indicating that some regions have seen up to five mines placed per square meter. The impact of these mines has been far-reaching, prompting a closer examination of the four main types being used, their function, and the toll they have taken on the conflict.

The Effectiveness of Landmines in Modern Warfare

Despite being a weapon rooted in 20th-century warfare, landmines continue to be employed due to their low cost, ease of production, and high effectiveness against adversaries. Their widespread usage in the Russia-Ukraine conflict attests to their enduring relevance. However, what makes them particularly lethal is their ability to inflict debilitating injuries or fatal consequences.

The Four Major Types of Landmines Used

1. Anti-personnel Mines

Butterfly mines

Blast mines, the most common type of landmine, are designed to cause grave harm to enemy soldiers. Buried just a few inches below the ground, they are typically triggered by a pressure plate, requiring a force of 11 to 35.3 pounds to detonate. Ukraine has encountered both PMN-2 and PMN-4 blast mines, with the former being a circular, plastic-cased mine. The use of the banned PFM-1 “butterfly” mine has also been reported, which scatters over a wide area and contains liquid high-explosives.

Bounding mines, activated by tripwires or pressure, are another subcategory of anti-personnel mines. Upon activation, these mines launch into the air, detonating around the upper body of victims. Their devastating effects result in horrific injuries.

Fragmentation mines, whether bounding or ground mines, cause injuries by projecting glass or metal shrapnel in different directions. With an effective range of up to 660 feet, they pose a significant threat to both soldiers and civilians. Instances of Ukraine employing OZM-72 “bounding fragmentation” mines in violation of the Mine Ban Treaty have been identified.

2. Anti-tank Mines

Anti-tank mines

Anti-tank mines, larger versions of anti-personnel blast mines, are specifically designed to inflict maximum damage on tanks. They achieve this by destroying tracks and penetrating armor. Pressure-activated, these mines require a much greater force, ranging from 348.33 to 745.16 pounds, to trigger their explosion. The PTM-1, a plastic-bodied, rectangular mine, and the TM-62M, a large, metal-cased circular mine, have both been utilized in the conflict by Russia and Ukraine.

The Role of Landmines in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Russian forces have strategically employed dense minefields as a crucial tactic during the invasion, particularly in response to Ukraine’s counteroffensive. These minefields, characterized by their depth and multi-layered structure, aim to destroy mine-clearing equipment by stacking several mines on top of each other. The scale and complexity of these minefields have forced Ukrainian soldiers to abandon their armored vehicles and proceed on foot, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attacks.

As Ukraine realized the limitations of their armored vehicles in navigating minefields, General Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, called for modern fighter jets, such as the F-16, to strengthen their ground capabilities. The treacherous nature of the minefields has rendered tanks and armored vehicles ineffective against concentrated fire from the opposing forces.

The extensive use of landmines in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has had a profound impact on the dynamics of the war. It not only presents a potent challenge for military strategists but also underscores the devastating consequences faced by soldiers and civilians caught in the midst of this deadly conflict. As efforts continue to find a resolution to the crisis, the haunting legacy of landmines serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the global menace they represent.