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Ukraine's fleet of mine clearance vehicles has almost tripled since January

Mine clearance operations near Kyiv. (Photo by The HALO Trust)

Clearance of land mines in Ukraine is picking up pace through a combination of foreign donations of demining vehicles, training of personnel and local manufacturing of related equipment.

The number of demining vehicles in Ukraine jumped from zero last year to 30 at the start of 2024 and jumped a further 173% since then to 82 currently, said Ukrainian Economy Minister Svyrydenko.

“We will continue to increase their number," she said in a press release. "After all, we already have examples of localised production of foreign models, and we have domestic developments that will be put into mass production after certification. As for other demining machinery and equipment, operators are already buying Ukrainian-made equipment."

She also said the number of certified mine action operators has jumped 50% since January to 43 currently and 52 more are currently undergoing certification, which will more than double the number again.

The increase has allowed mine clearance personell to return more than 156,600 hectares of farmland to farmers for planting since the beginning of the year, she said.

The latest donation was announced by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa during a July 6 trip to Cambodia, another country with extensive experience in clearance of land mines.

“Next week, we will provide Ukraine with a large demining machine, and next month, here in Cambodia, we will train Ukrainian personnel on how to operate the machine,” she said, reported The Associated Press. "As a concrete cooperation under the Japan Cambodia Landmine Initiative, Japan will provide full-scale assistance to humanitarian mine action in Ukraine."

Late last year, some 34 countries pledged a combined €500 million to help de-mine Ukraine at a donors' conference in Zagreb, Croatia.

Pledges included €100 million from Switzerland, €20 million from Norway, €12.5 million from Sweden, €5 million from Croatia, €2 million from Austria and €1.5 million euros each from Spain and Slovenia.

The US State Department has also pleged $89 million and Ukraine is received related assistance from the European Union and international institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction (EBRD) and Development and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

And in March of this year, Palantir, the US tech firm founded by billionaire Peter Thiel, signed a contract to supply the Ukrainian government with big data and artificial intelligence technologies to help with land mine clearance.

Under the agreement, Palantir will digitize Ukrainian demining operations, automate mine clearance operations up to 2033, help set demining priorities and manage risk and offer "an assistant based on the Palantir artificial intelligence platform (AIP) for decision-making in mine action," the Ukrainian government said.

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