Kherson official denies minefields near Kherson were cleared before the invasion

20 June, 01:57 PM
Russian equipment on the way to Kherson (Photo:favoritekherson.co)

Russian equipment on the way to Kherson (Photo:favoritekherson.co)

In an interview with NV Radio on June 19, head of the Kherson regional council, Oleksandr Samoylenko, said he’s convinced that minefields in Kherson Oblast were not cleared shortly before the start of the full-scale Russian invasion – as it has been suggested in some media reports earlier.              

“I served as the head of the regional council, and some state secrets are surely beyond my purview,” said Samoylenko.

“But in order to remove the minefields – as suggested in some allegations, made in recent years – that would certainly have been noticed. At the very least, I would have been aware of any such actions.”

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According to Samoylenko, one such allegation said that areas of Kherson Oblast near Crimea were cleared of landmines during the construction of a checkpoint post in 2019.

“(The construction) was limited to a rather small area,” he said.

“We’re talking about a stretch of the road through Klanachak and Chonhar. I don’t know where (the minefields) were located, and I won’t confirm they even exist. But no minefields were cleared during the construction of the checkpoint post.”

The official also refuted the suggestion that Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk was responsible for ordering some minefields removed in Kherson Oblast.

“There was this version (of a story) that after becoming Deputy PM, Vereshchuk launched a shuttle service (between the checkpoint and the boundary of Crimea), and minefields were (allegedly) removed for that reason,” said Samoylenko.

“Actually, all the work was done on the road itself, which was used by cars the whole time. (This road) was never mined (in the first place).”

Samoylenko said he’s certain that all the minefields in the region were very much in place on Feb. 24. Invading Russian troops, however, knew about them beforehand, and avoided them by moving through roads and bridges, he explained.

“I can’t say why the road wasn’t under fire, or why it wasn’t destroyed in one way or another,” Samoylenko added.

“That’s a question for our military command. But we could see minefield warning signs around the checkpoint up to the very last day (before the invasion). It’s impossible to clear such vast areas of landmines. This seems to be our usual political pastime of looking for traitors within, as soon as immediate existential danger abates.”

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