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800 times and counting: Ukrainian sappers actively use drones for mine clearance

Since the beginning of 2023, UAVs have been used more than 800 times for demining operations by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, primarily in the de-occupied territories of the Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions.

“Currently, our sappers are actively using various types of UAVs with cameras and magnetometers for aerial reconnaissance, as well as underwater and surface drones,” stated the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

Drones are useful in a variety of tasks in humanitarian demining. They help inspect potentially contaminated areas, including ​​rivers and lakes, compilate maps, and mark territories contaminated with explosives. Moreover, UAVs are used to ensure the safety of pyrotechnic units during the destruction of explosive objects.

An unexploded Russian missile from the MLRS Grad is embedded
in a field near the city of Kherson.
Photo: Nacho Doce / Reuters

In October 2023, state pyrotechnic units and non-governmental operators inspected over 22,000 hectares of Ukrainian agricultural land potentially contaminated with explosive objects. In total, since the beginning of the year, 234,759 hectares of territories have been inspected, of which almost 178,000 hectares have been returned to agricultural use.

“Ahead is the inspection and demining of land, including the territories with a high contamination density. But we have been preparing for this. We are training sappers, working on supplying new units, and purchasing demining equipment. Our domestic production is gaining momentum the first machine for soil preparation, made in Ukraine, has already been handed over to sappers. We also have the support of our international partners,” said Yuliia Svyrydenko, Minister of Economy of Ukraine.

Read more: About 6 million people in Ukraine are exposed to the threat of mines – Ukrainian Prime Minister.

The Ukrainian government has developed a 4-year plan for the priority inspection and, if necessary, cleaning and demining of over 470,000 hectares of agricultural land.

In particular, priority is given to the least contaminated lands for the purposes of economic feasibility. First subjected to demining are the areas with perennial plantations and those where vegetable and melon crops will be sown.