By Tom Squitieri
Red Snow News
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is upping its flow of land mine capability to Ukraine, looking the other way to the questionable use of land mines by both Ukraine and Russia in the current conflict.
Cold War style anti-tank ladies are included in the latest military assistance package, $325 million, announced last week for Ukraine.
The Pentagon would not say how many M21 mines were included in the assistance package.
Earlier in the conflict, the Pentagon sent anti-personnel mines, known as Claymores, to Ukraine. U.S. officials say the landmines are provided with no guidance or, at least publicly, with no strings attached — a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which gives the Pentagon the ability have it both ways if U.S.-supplied weapons are used outside the bounds of international treaties.
The Claymore anti-personnel mine, under some circumstances and tactical use, is prohibited by the Ottawa land mines treaty.
Under the treaty, Claymores can be used if detonated only with a remote control device, meaning an individual has to do it with purpose and not be accident. If they are rigged to detonate with a tripwire or other trick method they are prohibited.
“We provide equipment to the Ukrainians, and they determine how they’re going to use it,” Brig Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon spokesperson, said at a previous Pentagon briefing when asked about concerns surrounding the Claymore mine.
He also said that “to clarify, too, I think sometimes the — the term, you know, as I looked into this, admittedly, as an Air Force guy. This is an antipersonnel device above ground, so mines in that sense is a little bit of a misnomer, but yeah.”
The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively prohibits all types of victim-activated explosive devices, regardless of the technical features and regardless of the mine’s predicted longevity, delivery method, or type of manufacture (improvised or factory-made).
The M21 is not banned by the Ottawa treaty. It does not have self-destruct features; that means when fighting concludes, they would have to be removed manually. It is metal, and thus can be detected easier thank plastic version.
It is is a high explosive antitank landmine which uses the Misznay-Schardin effect (high explosive wave that propels a concave steel plate at extremely high velocity) against the underside, tracks, or wheels of armored vehicles. It is activated by an M607 fuze which functions upon application of either horizontal or vertical pressure.
About 200,000 M21 mines were produced in the U.S. and licensed copies, the K441 and K442, were produced in South Korea. The Pentagon has an estimated 175,000 M21 mines stockpiled.
Ukraine signed the Mine Ban Treaty on February 24, 1999 and became a state party on June 1, 2006.
Russia has not joined the treaty, but is bound by the prohibitions and restrictions on mines, booby-traps, and other devices found in Amended Protocol II of the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), as well as Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and customary international humanitarian law. which was signed by Ukraine.
The United States is not a party to the treaty.
Russian forces have used at least seven types of antipersonnel mines in at least four regions of Ukraine: Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Sumy. This marks an unusual situation in which a country that is not party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty uses the weapon on the territory of a party to the treaty.
Both Russian and Ukrainian forces have extensively used anti-vehicle mines (also called anti-tank mines) in at least six regions: Donetsk, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa, Sumy, and Zaporizhzhia. Hand-emplaced TM-62 series anti-vehicle mines appear to be the type most frequently used.
According to the Ottawa treaty, Claymores are mines covered by the treaty protocols, regardless if they are above or below the ground. Ryder then said, “The capabilities that we’re providing are in compliance with the Ottawa Treaty.”
Requests to the Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and the Department of Public Relations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for comments, clarifications and perspective did not generate responses.
Last June, the Biden administration announced that it would restrict the use of anti-personnel land mines by the U.S. military, aligning the country’s policy more closely with the international treaty.
“The president believes strongly that we need to curtail their use worldwide,” John Kirby, a national security spokesman, said at a White House briefing then.