Russia is most likely using the deadly PFM-1 series ‘Butterfly Mines in Ukraine, which the children could mistake for toys, according to the UK Ministry of Defence in its intelligence assessment of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
BUTTERFLY MINES; WHAT UK INTELLIEGNCE SAY?
The UK Intelligence in its bulletin a few days back said that Russia was likely deploying the anti-personnel mines to deter freedom of movement along its defensive lines in the Donbas. The UK defence further stated that these mines used in the Soviet-Afghan War allegedly maimed high numbers of children who mistook them for toys. The UK Defence Ministry said that the Butterfly mines posed a threat to both the local population and humanitarian mine clearance operations.
It said that Russia might have employed these potential PFM-1 and PFM-1S mines in Donetsk and Kramatorsk.
BUTTERFLY MINES; WHAT THEY STAND FOR?
Also known as Green Parrot, the PFM-1 and PFM-1S are two kinds of anti-personnel landmines. The mines get the names from its shape and colour. These mines can be deployed from mortars, helicopters and aeroplanes in large numbers. They glide to the ground without exploding and will explode later upon contact. One of the main differences between the PFM-1 and PFM-1S mine is that the latter comes with a self-destruction mechanism. It gets activated within one to 40 hours.
The mines consist of a polythene plastic container that contains explosives. The two wings of the Butterfly Mines allow it to glide after being released in the air. The two wings together are 120 mm (about 5 inches) long. The plastic body can be molded in a variety of colours for best camouflage. As existing stocks were in European green rather than sand coloured, the first examples used in 1980s Afghanistan were green and easily visible. This led to their name ‘green parrots.
Moreover, these mines are much attractive and mostly children pick them. Very sensitive, the mines just acts with picking it up can set it off. Because of the relatively lesser explosive packed in this small mine, it often injures and maims the handler rather than killing them. These mines are also difficult to detect because they are made of plastic and can evade metal detectors.
BUTTERFLY MINES; AFGHANISTAN
Reports said more than a million ‘Butterfly mines’ litter Afghanistan. They were airdropped in valleys and mountain passes to impede the movement of the Afghan Mujahideen. More than 30,000 Afghans are believed to have been victims of these mines and a large number of children were among the casualties.
BUTTERFLY MINES;INTERNATIONAL LAWS
International watchdogs have decried usage of PFM-1 and PFM-1S mines. They are banned as part of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Neither Russia nor the US has signed the treaty, though Ukraine has.
The anti personal mines are banned by international convention on landlines but Russia and Ukraine are not signatories to it. However, there is a 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons-the Landlines Protocol to which Russia and Ukraine are signatories.