This week we are out in the east of the country. The beginning of spring has brought a thaw which has started to melt the ice that has dominated the winter months.
The increased temperature has turned frosty battlefields into planes of mud and sludge.
We are not far from those battlefields this week.
We just had a few meetings this morning, finalising some formalities, recapping on some strategies, and soon we will be moving in the direction of the frontline.
When we reach our destination we will be about ten to 15km behind the frontline – that strip of active battleground. I will tell you what we will be doing when we get there and why it must be done.
When we arrive
THIS week gives us an opportunity to do what we came here to do. We have been given the location of a small town, and that is where we are heading.
The mission is to clear mines, and any other sort of unexploded ordinance which we may come across. We will be staying in the wing of an old school while we are there, and that will act as our base.
I will explain how these sort of operations work.
Just to be clear
WE will basically do a non-technical survey, walking around, using our eyes to survey the land for any evidence that suggests the presence of an unexploded ordinance. That might be a mine or any other kind of explosive device.
When we have reason to suspect that there are dangerous objects around, the detectors will be taken out and we will set about clearing safe corridors. That means establishing escape routes, opening up space for medics to come through if necessary, making room for vehicles to turn, and establishing an admin area.
When doing this job, obviously, you need to make sure that everything has been thoroughly checked, every inch of land scoured, searched and made safe.
One thing that you almost always find is that where there are anti-vehicle mines, there are probably antipersonnel mines too. These are often, small, discreet and deadly.
Tomorrow morning we are actually going into the field.
Between now and then, we are just doing our final kit checks and rehearsing our plan for when we get there.
‘Russia must withdraw’
NATO has come out and said that Russian troops must withdraw from Ukraine.
This is so obvious to everybody in Ukraine that it has provoked laughter from some. It is like stating that the sky is blue or the grass is green.
Everyone is very clear that Russia needs to get out of every patch of Ukranian soil.
They need to get out of Crimea, out of the east, out of the south. NATO saying so did not mean a whole lot to most Ukrainians.
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