While its invasion has not gone to plan, Russia may have successfully deployed an array of new-age weaponry in Ukraine. Last week, an ordnance disposal team near Kharkiv found a new menace: the POM-3, a little-known antipersonnel mine that can be dispersed in droves using the Zemledilie-I mine-laying rocket launcher. The mines descend by parachute and stick in the ground, waiting ominously. This is no ordinary landmine: Unlike typical mines that are triggered when stepped on, the POM-3's seismic sensors can pick up a person's approach and then detonate. The New York Times reports the sensors are able to tell animals apart from humans, and that the fragments it produces can be "lethal up to about 50 feet away."
The Times contacted the HALO Trust—a British-American mine-clearing charity—which has been working to neutralize mines and other unexploded munitions in Ukraine's Donbas region since fighting erupted there in 2014. Referring to the POM-3, HALO leader James Cowan says, "These create a threat that we don’t have a response for." The invasion has forced HALO to pause its work, but fighting will end someday. When it does, the leftovers of modern warfare will leave Ukraine with the same "multigenerational burden" experienced by so many other nations, per the Center for Public Integrity, from France and Germany to Cambodia and Syria.
In a recent address, President Zelensky warned fellow Ukrainians that the Russians left landmines "across the whole territory" outside Kyiv, per CBS News. This is a known hallmark of the Russian military and its proxies, according to Human Rights Watch, which says it "has documented the use of Soviet/Russian-origin antipersonnel mines in more than 30 countries." Cowan predicts the situation will only get worse. "The war is entering a static phase—trenches are being dug. This is the time when I would expect the Russians to start using land mines on a massive basis." (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)