Reports are in that Russian forces are laying "smart" landmines in Ukraine that are only able to target soldiers. Called the POM-3 "Medallion" landmine, these anti-personal weapons are activated, allegedly, specialist seismic target sensors.
“Countries around the world should forcefully condemn Russia’s use of banned antipersonnel landmines in Ukraine,” said Steve Goose, the arms director of Human Rights Watch. “These weapons do not differentiate between combatants and civilians and leave a deadly legacy for years to come.”
Ukraine, for its part, is a signatory of this treaty and if claims of Russian landmines are correct, this marks an interesting quandary.
Other reports of the mines come from on-the-ground members of the "Ukrainian Deminers Association", an NGO. According to their reports, Russian forces are seeding certain parts of Ukraine, notably around the Kharkiv region. Such mines were located by Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal technicians on March 28, 2022, and Russia is known for having them in their armed forces' arsenals.
These mines are very potent and are able to kill or maim anyone unlucky enough to get into range up to 52.5 feet, give or take. According to sources, the Ukrainian army does not have any of these mines - though this cannot be verified for obvious reasons.
What are POM-3 landmines?
The POM-3 “Medallion” landmines are a newly developed take on a very old technology, that comes equipped with a special electronic unit responsible for processing the signals from the seismic sensor of the target and controlling the warhead. When the landmine's electronic command unit detects a nearby target, the mine's warhead is launched to a height of around 5 feet above the ground before detonating - killing anything within its blast radius.
These mines, interestingly, are also able to self-destruct after a set period of time - hours, days, weeks, after deployment.
The main explosive charge is of a newer design and rather than a single grooved fragmentation cylinder consists of semi-finished fragments. The main explosive charge and fuse are installed inside the structure, assembled from a large number of special rings, shaped like gears.
When in transit, the landmines resemble a metal cylinder with a diameter of around 2.4 inches to 2.76 inches and a length of around 7.87 inches. Being relatively small, these mines can, allegedly, be deployed from a distance. According to reports on the subject, these mines can be deployed, for example, by rockets fired from specially designed ground launchers.
These landmines can also be scattered at short range by other types of truck-mounted launchers.
In November 2020,Russia told the United Nations General Assemblythat it “shares the goals of the treaty and supports a world free of mines,” but views antipersonnel mines “as an effective way of ensuring the security of Russia’s borders.”
This is also not the first time Russia has deployed landmines in the recent past.
For example, Human Rights Watch has documentedthe use of Soviet/Russian-origin antipersonnel mines in more than 30 countries, including Syria (2011-2019), Ukraine (2014-2015), and Libya (2020), often coinciding with the Russian military presence as a party in those conflicts.
“Russia’s use of antipersonnel mines in Ukraine deliberately flouts the international norm against the use of these horrid weapons,” Goose said.