Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Plagued by Russian Traps

Ukraine's Counteroffensive Plagued by Russian Boobytraps

( – For several weeks, the Ukrainian army has been pushing on with a major counter-offensive against the Russian invaders. The media has already reported how the attack is being slowed by minefields and the extensive trench systems and defenses the Russians spent the winter building. Now, images from the front line show the occupiers are also using much dirtier tricks.

Since Russia’s invasion ran out of steam last summer, Ukraine has been building up the forces it needs to throw its unwanted guests off its land — and Russian troops have been building, digging, and laying mines to create a vast defensive belt bigger than anything that’s been seen in Europe since 1945. Of course, field defenses and (properly marked) minefields are legitimate military techniques. Russia doesn’t seem to care what’s legitimate or not, though. The advancing Ukrainians are finding thousands of booby traps.

The use of booby traps — victim-operated explosives — is controversial. Deploying the weapons isn’t automatically a war crime, but it becomes one if they’re targeted at civilians. Argentina caused outrage in the 1982 Falklands War by littering homes in the island’s capital with explosives wired to children’s toys, bicycles, and soda cans. Now, Russian troops are adopting the same evil tactic.

One photograph shows a baby doll with a Russian demolition charge — containing 400 grams of TNT — and an electric blasting cap concealed inside its chest. A video shows fragmentation grenades wired to the branches of trees, with hooked wires attached to the pins that detonate them if anyone brushes the tree. Ukrainians say these were planted by Putin’s notoriously brutal Chechen units.

Explosives have also been fitted to cars, domestic appliances, and the bodies of dead soldiers. One video even shows a live hedgehog with a PFM-1 antipersonnel mine tied to its body. Some images coming out of Ukraine are bizarre, but they’re also chilling. It seems nothing is too macabre for Putin’s forces.

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