Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said it will take years to defuse unexploded ordnance once the Russian invasion is over.
Monastyrsky told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday that the country will need help from the West to carry out this massive undertaking after the war.
A large number of shells and mines were fired at Ukraine, and many of them failed to explode. They remain under the rubble and pose a real threat, Monastyrsky said in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
It will take years, not months, to defuse them.
In addition to Russian unexploded ordnance, Ukrainian troops planted landmines on bridges, airports and other key locations to prevent the Russians from using them.
We will not be able to clear all this territory, so I have asked our international partners and our colleagues in the European Union and the United States to prepare groups of experts to clear the combat zones and the bombed installations, Monastyrsky tells the AP.
He noted that his ministry’s mine clearance equipment remained in Mariupol, a beleaguered port city of 430,000 that was subjected to relentless bombardment for much of the war.
We lost 200 pieces of equipment there, Monastyrsky said.
One of the biggest challenges facing the Interior Ministry is fighting fires caused by relentless Russian bombing and airstrikes, Monastyrsky said.
The country’s emergency service, overseen by the ministry, faces desperate shortages of staff and equipment, he said.
A firefighter was killed in Russian shelling of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, on Thursday as he tried to put out a blaze at a market caused by a previous attack.
Monastyrsky added that the facilities of the emergency services in Kharkiv and Mariupol were completely destroyed in the Russian barrage.
Monastyrsky stressed that Ukrainian emergency responders urgently need more specialized vehicles and protective equipment.
The coming days will worsen a humanitarian disaster in critical areas, he said. I must say that the casualties among the civilians exceed our military casualties by several times.
The Interior Ministry worked to counter Russian saboteur groups that flooded the country to target bridges, gas pipelines and other infrastructure, Monastyrsky said, adding that dozens of such groups operated in Ukraine. .
We realize that sabotage is a key tool in the war, he said, adding that Ukrainian forces managed to spot Russian saboteurs by tracking their Russian cellphones.
“We reacted immediately by looking for the places where these phones were detected and taking action against these groups.
In occupied areas, Russian forces attempted to scare Ukrainian police who remained behind by visiting their homes and sometimes even placing explosives at their gates, Monastyrsky said.
They are trying to pressure people in the occupied territories, he said.
The massive protests that erupted in Berdyansk, Melitopol, Kherson and other occupied Ukrainian cities surprised Russians, who expected to be greeted by local Russian speakers, Monastyrsky said.
They clashed with civilians who speak Russian but defend Ukraine, he said. They now realize they made a big mistake.
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