Australia urged to send mine clearance teams to Ukraine

An Australian filmmaker covering the war in Ukraine is urging the Federal government to send mine clearance experts to the war-torn country after Russian troops planted scores of the explosive devices.

George Gittoes and his musician wife Hellen, from New South Wales, have been based in the Ukraine capital Kyiv since late last month where they have been shooting a film and making a peace mural.

Mr Gittoes said he had visited central parts of the city where Ukrainian military experts were clearing mines left by Russian soldiers after they retreated in recent days.

Australians Hellen Rose and George Gittoes are in Ukraine making a documentary about the war. (Photo: George Gitoes) (Supplied)

“I spoke to a Ukraine officer at one of the sites … His theory is that the Russians are doing this as a strategy to force Ukraine army engineers away from the frontline fighting to clear civilian areas,” he said.

“This would be a big loss to the battle front and handicap Ukraine and its chance to succeed against the Russian army.”

Australian mine clearance experts could play a big role in helping clear the mines, Mr Gittoes said.

“The officer said: ‘There could be nothing more helpful and all Ukrainians would be forever grateful to Australian people for this’,” he said.

Mr Gittoes said he plans to write to Australian politicians and senior army officers urging them to send mine clearance teams to Ukraine.

Retreating Russian forces have left scores of mines and booby traps across Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine. (Photo: George Gittoes) (Supplied)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned large parts of the country have been strewn with mines and booby traps as Russia’s army withdrew to regroup in the east of Ukraine.

“They are mining the whole territory. They are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,” Mr Zelenskyy said earlier this month.

“There are a lot of trip wires, a lot of other dangers.”

He urged residents to wait to resume their normal lives until they are assured that the mines have been cleared.

Mr Gittoes, 72, is no stranger to covering wars and has made a living making documentaries about global conflicts.

His works include Soundtrack to War in Baghdad during Iraqi dictators Saddam Hussein’s final days and Love City, Jalalabad filmed in Afghanistan.

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– Reported with Associated Press

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