- Zelenskyy says Russian troops left thousands of bombs and mines while retreating from the country’s north.
- Ukraine believes Russia is repositioning to the east ahead of an assault on the Donbas region.
- Zelenskyy said several thousand mines and trip wires were being disposed of every day.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops scattered thousands of unexploded bombs, mines, and trip wires across parts of northern Ukraine as they retreated.
In recent weeks, Ukraine said Russia had directed troops away from Kyiv and started a concentrated assault on the Donbas region, specifically on the strategic port city of Mariupol.
“Security work is underway in the northern regions of our country, from where the occupiers were expelled,” Zelenskyy said in a Monday night address.
“Russian troops left behind tens if not hundreds of thousands of dangerous objects. These are shells that did not explode, mines, tripwire mines. At least several thousand such items are disposed of daily.”
Throughout their invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops have mined roads and buildings to cause maximum damage. Russia is also accused of mining a road that was set to be a humanitarian exit route for Mariupol.
“The occupiers left mines everywhere. In the houses they seized. Just on the streets, in the fields. They mined people’s property, mined cars, doors,” Zelenskyy said.
“They consciously did everything to make the return to these areas after deoccupation as dangerous as possible. Due to the actions of the Russian army, our territory is currently one of the most contaminated by mines in the world.”
Ukraine’s interior minister, Denys Monastyrsky, told Ukrainian TV on Sunday that Russian troops had been setting booby traps in the homes of Ukrainian police officers, first responders, and members of the military — including one case where a bomb was found in a washing machine.
Zelenskyy said earlier in April that Russian forces had also mined “the bodies of people who were killed.”
In his Monday address, Zelenskyy said that Russia was prepared to use chemical weapons for the first time in the Ukraine conflict.
Earlier, Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, a right-wing paramilitary group, said on Telegram that Russia had used chemical weapons on a Ukrainian forces hiding in a steel plant, poisoning several people. The US said it was monitoring the reports.
The US and UK also said they were investigating reports that Russia was using chemical weapons in Mariupol.