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Russian President Vladimir Putin has been conducting “economic terrorism” in Ukraine by filling its farmland and Black Sea ports with explosive mines, an official working to mine Kiev told Fox News.
“There are already more than 20 years of mining work in Ukraine and another 30 days of mining work are required for each day of the war,” Cameron Chill, CEO of drone company Draganfly Inc. (DPRO), told Fox News. his return from Kiev.
Chill partnered with Ukrainian emergency management services to deploy drones to efficiently detect buried mines left behind by Russian forces after they withdrew from areas around Kiev in late March.
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However, the drone expert said where Russian troops left the explosive devices speaks volumes about the war Putin is raging against his former Soviet neighbor.
“They showed us some fields that seemed like there was no reason to bomb them. There wasn’t even real action in the area, according to what we were told,” Chill described. “The thing is, if you inadvertently go bomb hectares and hectares [of land] – is unusable.
“It becomes an unusable and unproductive land and it would appear that it is some kind of economic terrorism,” he added.
The war in Ukraine has been dragging on for more than four months. In April, Russian officials said Moscow’s ambition in Ukraine was to gain “full control” over its eastern and southern regions, although Kremlin officials only made this announcement after failing the first time to take Kiev after a month of fighting.
Officials on the ground have argued that this war is more than regaining former Soviet territory: it is about paralyzing Kiev.
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Chill said Ukrainians remain steadfast in their determination to repel the Russian offensive.
“There’s a very pragmatic approach to ‘Okay, what does it really mean in the next year, three years, five years, 10 years,'” he said. “I haven’t met anyone who expected this to be done by Christmas.
“Morale is resilient,” Chill added.
The number of landmines deployed by Russian forces across Ukraine remains unknown, but by mid-May, Ukrainian authorities reported as many as 80,000 mines and other explosive devices that had already been found, registered and disabled.
“Ukraine is now by far the most mined country in the world,” Chill said.
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Draganfly’s drone technology is not yet capable of detecting underwater mines, but its ability to find and record landmine locations is not only a safer method, it could speed up the demining process by up to 40%.
Drone technology is also being explored to help disable mines, though the expert said the most effective way to remove the threat from underground explosives is still to train personnel to individually disable bombs.