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First tractor driver in Ukraine killed by landmine

By Chris McCullough for Tri-State Livestock News

EVERY day in Ukraine as tractor drivers tend to the crops in the fields they hit land mines hidden in the ground by Russian soldiers when they occupied various regions.

Sadly, the Ukrainian authorities have announced the first tractor driver to die after hitting a land mine.

According to the Ukrainian Agrarian Council (UAC) the tractor driver in the Chernihiv region died after the tractor he was operating hit a land mine.



As the tractor blew up the blast inflicted serious injuries on the driver who later died in hospital.

Also, in the Kyiv region another tractor driver was taken to hospital with polytrauma after he, too, hit a device that exploded under the tractor.



The next day a 37-year-old tractor driver was blown up by a Russian mine when he drove into a field. Sappers who travelled to the scene found another one under the tractor.

UAC estimates that up to mid-May there were 11 million hectares encircled in the battlefield and half of this area could be contaminated by land mines left by the Russians. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, only 22,000 hectares have been surveyed as of May 21.

Military resources are busy searching for and de-activating land mines in the cities, towns and villages, therefore the hunt for explosives in the fields is not a high priority.

As soon as Russian forces are driven out of a previously occupied area, the deminers can start their work, but residential properties, various commercial buildings and roads are first in line.

It could take five to seven years to completely clear land mines from Ukraine land, which will further impact the production of food there.

Farmers are using drones to help search for land mines in their fields but this is not 100 percent effective as many mines have been further hidden by rain or is well camouflaged.

Saved by tracks

In one of the latest tractor incidents in the Kyiv region the driver hit a land mine at 5am. According to police he was saved because the tractor was big and was fitted with tracks.

The machine hit an anti-tank mine with the front part of the track, but the driver was not injured. The explosion damaged the cab, the engine compartment and ripped off the caterpillar mechanism.

This particular farm was rented out to another farmer who had submitted an application for the farmyard and the land to be demined. Although the buildings had been inspected, the tractor work had commenced in the fields before the land had been examined.

The farm owner said: “The occupants entered Andriivka village on February 26 and were knocked out on March 30. We have 130 hectares of land in the village, cultivate 30 hectares ourselves and lease 100 hectares.

“We grow fodder for our sheep, and the tenant plants traditional grains and oilseeds. Our tenant started cultivating the land last week and the farm’s tracked tractor exploded on a mine.

“Fortunately, no one was injured, although the tractor was new and not cheap. The works have now been suspended. We will wait for demining specialists. If we do not sow, we will have no fodder,” the farmer added.

Iryna Prianishnikova, head of the communication department of Kyiv region police, said: “The problem is that farmers cannot wait for the deminers and perform field work after inspecting them on their own.

“It is wrong, because only specialists can detect mines. You have to wait for them to work safely. There is no other way out.

“In Kyiv region we have up to 10 cases of tractors being blown up on mines. Workers who repair electrical networks are also often blown up. For all such cases, we open criminal proceedings under the article of violation of war customs.”

Planting potatoes

Around 100 hectares of another farm, Agriko Ukraine company in the Kyiv region, had put in a request to be surveyed but demining specialists never came.

After talking to local residents, together with the territorial defence, which included deminers, the farm managed to survey all the fields.

Company director Mykola Gordiichuk said: “The deadline for planting potatoes was coming to an end, so I spoke to representatives of the territorial defence at the time.

“They said that our fields were away from the occupants’ routes and fighting. The territorial defence sappers found only remnants of missiles. Therefore, from April 20 we started to apply fertilizer and prepare the land for potato planting. We have already finished the sowing season,” he said.

Since the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, almost 114,000 explosive devices have already been destroyed, including 2,000 aerial bombs.

On average, the pyrotechnic units of the State Emergency Service recover 2,000 to 5,000 explosive devices every day. And in Kyiv region sappers removed 10,000 different types of explosive devices, some of which are banned under the Geneva Convention.

A tractor driver has lost his life after hitting a land mine in Ukraine. Chris McCullough
Courtesy photo
The mine blew up the back of this tractor.

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