Ukraine

MOD: Russia is using controversial butterfly mines in Ukraine

They were widely used by Soviet forces in Afghanistan where they maimed large numbers of children who mistook them for toys.

Russian forces in Ukraine are scattering highly controversial anti-personnel mines in parts of the Donbas region, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) says.

The so-called 'butterfly mines' were widely used by Soviet forces in Afghanistan where they maimed large numbers of children who mistook them for toys.

Russian units in the Donbas are deploying them along their defensive lines, particularly around Donetsk and Kramatorsk, the MOD added.

The Russian MOD says it is actually Ukraine that is using the butterfly mines and released footage showing what it claims are pro-Russian troops clearing them from a street in Donetsk.

Kyiv, however, says the pictures are fake – and says they actually show Russian troops clearing up their own mines.

The PFM-1 is a Soviet-era copy of a US anti-personnel mine used during the Vietnam War.

They are about 11cm in size, carrying 40g of liquid explosive and are dropped from an aircraft or shot into an area using a special mortar.

Former British Army bomb disposal officer Bob Gravett, who now works for a group carrying out mine clearance globally, said: "It looks harmless – that's the problem.

"They come down, same as a Sycamore leaf, the heavy body comes down, the fin rotating. That gives it a relatively soft landing, so they can impact and land anywhere.

"They can be in the trees in orchards, they can be in cornfields, they can be anywhere."