The use of PFM-1 ‘butterfly’ mines against civilians is prohibited by the Geneva conventions – but this evidently isn’t stopping Ukraine.
Saturday night, just after 9 pm, thunderous explosions rocked central Donetsk. Shortly after, there were announcements that air defence had shot down Ukrainian-fired missiles containing “Butterfly” (or “Petal”) mines.
Warning: The report below contains a blurred out but otherwise graphic image of an injury caused by one of these munitions [at 30 secs].
Given that over 300 of these mines are packed into each of the Ukrainian-fired rockets, central Donetsk would literally be a minefield. While Ukraine has been using these mines on the Donbass for many months, in recent days they have intensely bombarded Gorlovka and Donetsk neighbourhoods with them. Initially targeted were the hard-hit districts of Kievskiy in the north, Kirovsky in the southwest, and Kuibyshevkiy in the west.
But as of Saturday night, Ukraine hammered central Donetsk with them. And now, walking in the city centre is a nightmare, one I had to endure to document how widespread these mines are here: in central streets and walkways, near apartments, in parks…
Reporting from the ground, independent journalist Eva Bartlett continues:
On July 30th, in a densely inhabited working-class district of western Donetsk, in a field with garden plots for nearby apartment residents, I saw the nefarious “petal” or “butterfly” mines which Ukraine the following day dropped on the central of Donetsk.
In the large courtyard of an apartment complex, I watched from a safe distance as Emergency Services timer-detonated eight mines they had found around the grounds. The day prior, they destroyed 26. Another 150 were located and destroyed using a radio-controlled minesweeper. But there remains much work to restore the streets and courtyards to safety.
Some types of these anti-personnel mines have a self-destruct timer. Others, including the ones Ukraine is firing, have a years-long shelf life. They do pretty much no damage to military vehicles, and as such their use in Donbass is insidious – deliberately targeting civilians, to leave them maimed.
Out of the 6 million such mines Ukraine initially declared in its possession, only 2 million have been reportedly destroyed as of 2018.
On August 6th, Ukraine fired onto the territory of an orphanage in Makeevka a rocket containing the Petal mines which Ukraine has been terrorizing Donetsk civilians with since late July. The orphanage evacuated its children months ago, due to its proximity to the front lines. Nonetheless, according to the Head Physician of the orphanage, Ukraine deliberately targeted it, knowing its existence and location. This is another Ukrainian war crimes, the latest in a long list spanning 8+ years.
As of August 8th, according to DPR authorities, 29 people have been injured by the Petal Mines Ukraine continues to rain down on the DPR. These are extremely insidious mines, difficult to spot, easy to step on and have your foot blown off, as was the case with an 87 year old woman recently.
The Ottawa Treaty (also known as the Mine Ban Treaty), which outlaws anti-personnel mines, was opened for signature on December 3, 1997. After Ukraine signed the Ottawa Treaty on February 24th, 1999, it was obliged to not only not use them, but to destroy its stock. The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is an international treaty that prohibits all use, transfer, production, and stockpiling of cluster bombs, a type of explosive weapon which scatters submunitions (“bomblets”) over an area. Ukraine has not signed the CCM Treaty.