Ukraine says more than 260 civilians killed after stepping on mines since beginning of Russian invasion

Extensive mines and explosives in Ukraine have killed more than 260 civilians and injured another 571 during Russia’s 20-month-old invasion, Kyiv’s military officials have said.

Around 174,000sq km of Ukraine, making up about a third of its territory, has been potentially strewn with mines or dangerous war detritus, estimates from Kyiv officials showed.

The 571 injuries have occurred in more than 560 incidents that involve mines or explosive objects left behind in the fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops, the country’s General Staff of the Armed Forces said on its official Telegram channel on Wednesday.

Almost a quarter of these incidents have happened in fields, the military official said.

Mines planted by Vladimir Putin’s forces have heavily damaged war-stricken Ukraine and played a significant role in stalling Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Russian soldiers in the eastern and southern parts of the battlefield, where the counteroffensive has continued, have mined vast swathes of land.

In July, Ukraine said an area the size of Arizona needs to be cleared of mines. The explosives will pose a threat long after the fighting stops.

The latest mine-related injuries occurred on Wednesday in the southern Mykolaiv region after two farmers attempted to resume their occupation in an area considered to be contaminated with mines.

Their tractor struck an unidentified explosive and injured both the men, the interior ministry said.

“One of them had two legs amputated, the other refused to be taken to hospital after being examined,” the ministry said.

The war-hit nation has also highlighted a critical need of sappers or combat engineers. The country now has about 3,000 specialists, but needs 7,000 more to fully clear all the mines, Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal was quoted as saying by Suspilne media.

This would need $37bn (£30.3bn) in funding to de-mine territories – a sum Kyiv seeks from its international allies.