Vast areas of Ukraine contaminated with mines, says Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President calls Russian invasion an 'ecocide' during an address to New Zealand's Parliament

'As of now, 174,000 square kilometres of Ukrainian territory are contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance,' Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told New Zealand politicians. EPA
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Long-term help is required to clear Ukraine of mines and other unexploded ordinance covering an area roughly the size of Cambodia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday.

Mr Zelenskyy described Russia's nearly year-long invasion as an “ecocide” that would have lasting effects, and he implored New Zealand and others to step up aid during a video address to the country's parliament.

“As of now, 174,000 square kilometres of Ukrainian territory are contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance,” Mr Zelenskyy told politicians.

That is an area roughly the size of Cambodia, Syria or Uruguay.

Mr Zelenskyy urged New Zealand — whose military has extensive experience in mine clearing — to help lead the clean-up effort.

“There is no real peace for any child who can die from a hidden Russian anti-personnel [mine],” he said.

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He added that both the Black Sea and the neighbouring Sea of Azov are also littered with mines “and have lost hundreds of thousands of living creatures, those who died as the result of the hostilities”.

The Ukrainian leader has addressed dozens of foreign parliaments over the past 10 months, seeking to sustain and strengthen a global coalition in support of Ukraine's defence efforts.

New Zealand has so far supplied modest amounts of equipment and military training for Ukraine's war effort.

Wellington has sent more than 100 military trainers to Europe to give Ukraine's armed forces advice on soldiering and infantry fighting.

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Prime minister Jacinda Ardern indicated New Zealand would be willing to help with the clean-up effort and in rebuilding the country.

“We are with you as you seek peace, but we will also be with you as you rebuild,” Ms Ardern said.

New Zealand's government on Wednesday pledged a further $2 million in humanitarian aid to help Ukraine through the winter.

It also highlighted sanctions imposed a day earlier on Iran — which has provided Russia with scores of drones that have attacked Ukrainian towns and infrastructure.

Updated: December 14, 2022, 12:08 AM