The United States says it will provide $89 million to help clear land mines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordinance planted by Russian forces as part of the Kremlin’s five-and-a-half-month-long attack on Ukraine, Voice of America reported.
The aid package, announced on Tuesday by the State Department, will help fund, train, and equip approximately 100 de-mining teams over the next year as they take on what officials described as a massive problem plaguing at least 160,000 square kilometres of Ukrainian territory, including 10 per cent of Ukraine’s farmland.
“This is a challenge that Ukraine will face for decades,” an official told reporters on Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the State Department.
The $89 million will be taken from both the State Department Fiscal Year 2022 budget, as well as from a series of supplemental funding bills passed by Congress earlier this year.
The money will not go directly to the government of Ukraine but will be paid out over time to non-governmental organisations, contractors and other de-mining specialists, who will then work alongside Ukraine’s existing de-mining teams.
“While we’re announcing our intent to provide this assistance as quickly as possible, it is going to take a little bit of time because that training process is iterative,” the State Department official said.
Details on the training, including the precise location, are still being worked out, and US officials are also in contact with allies about providing additional assistance.