Russia’s use of Butterfly Mines in Ukraine is a War Crime
Numerous posts to social media suggest Russia is using deadly PFM-1 land mines in Ukraine.
Also known as “butterfly mines,” PFM-1 are generally scattered over a large area from helicopters, airplanes, artillery rockets, or mortar shells.
The mines’ winged design allows them to reach the ground intact and explode later upon contact. Each mine contains 40g of explosive liquid and is made of plastic, suggesting it is designed to maim rather than kill.
Russia’s alleged use of PFM-1 in Ukraine is a “terror against the civilian population,” warns German military expert and podcaster Carlo Masala. “They are aimed specifically at civilians.”
Many claim butterfly mines were intentionally designed to look like toys so they would be picked up by children – a tragedy that occurred in high numbers during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. For this reason, PFM-1 and other explosives were banned in 1997 with the signing of the Ottawa Treaty (formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines on their Destruction).
Russia and Ukraine are not among the treaty’s 164 signatories, though international humanitarian law still applies to the use of land mines against civilians.
Reports of butterfly mines being found in Ukraine surfaced in February and have continued since. In March, a Forbes article referenced Russia’s use of land mines to prevent evacuation from Mariupol. Russia acknowledged the presence of mines outside the city, but accused Ukraine of planting them in an effort to prevent people from leaving so that they could be used as human shields.
You can view footage of butterfly mines in the videos below: