Explained: What is the controversial ‘Butterfly Mine’ Russia has allegedly used in Ukraine?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is the controversial ‘Butterfly Mine’ Russia has allegedly used in Ukraine?” published in Indian Express on 12th August 2022.

What is the News?

The UK Ministry of Defence in its intelligence assessment of the ongoing war in Ukraine has sounded an alarm on the possible use of ‘Butterfly Mines’ by the Russian military in Donetsk and Kramatorsk. 

What are Butterfly Mines?
Butterfly mines
Source: Indian Express

The PFM-1 and PFM-1S are two kinds of anti-personnel landmines that are commonly referred to as ‘Butterfly mines’ or ‘Green Parrots’. These names are derived from the shape and colour of the mines.

These mines can be deployed in the field of action through several means, which include being dropped from helicopters or through ballistic dispersion using artillery and mortar shells. These mines glide to the ground without exploding and later explode on coming in contact. 

The main difference between the PFM-1 and PFM-1S mine is that the latter comes with a self-destruction mechanism which gets activated within one to 40 hours.

Why are these mines controversial?

The ‘Butterfly mine’ has earned a reputation for being particularly attractive to children because it looks like a coloured toy. It is very sensitive to touch and just the act of picking it up can set it off. 

These mines are also difficult to detect because they are made of plastic and can evade metal detectors.

Are these kinds of mines allowed in International Law?

The anti-personal mines are banned by the International Convention on Landmines but Russia and Ukraine are not signatories to it. 

However, there is a 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons-the Landmines Protocol to which Russia and Ukraine are signatories.

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