Ukraine Says It Will Take Years To Defuse Mines

Ukraine's interior minister said Friday that it will take years to defuse unexploded ordnances after the Russian invasion.

Ukraine Says It Will Take Years To Defuse Mines

Ukraine's interior minister said Friday that it will take years to defuse unexploded ordnances after the Russian invasion.

Speaking to The Associated Press in the besieged Ukrainian capital, Denys Monastyrsky said that the country will need Western assistance to cope with the massive task once the war is over.

“A huge number of shells and mines have been fired at Ukraine and a large part haven't exploded, they remain under the rubble and pose a real threat,” Monastyrsky said. “It will take years, not months, to defuse them.”

In addition to the unexploded Russian ordnances, the Ukrainian troops also have planted land mines at bridges, airports and other key infrastructure to prevent Russians from using them.

“We won't be able to remove the mines from all that territory, so I asked our international partners and colleagues from the European Union and the United States to prepare groups of experts to demine the areas of combat and facilities that came under shelling,” Monastyrsky told the AP.

He noted that another top challenge is dealing with fires caused by the relentless Russian barrages. He said there's a desperate shortage of personnel and equipment to deal with the fires amid the constant shelling.


— Russia has attacked the outskirts of the western city of Lviv, a crossroads for people fleeing the war and for others entering to deliver aid or fight.

— President Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge patriotic rally in Moscow and praised the Russian military

— President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping spoke as the White House looks to deter Beijing from providing assistance to Russia.

— Rescuers search for survivors at a Mariupol theater hit by Russian airstrike; 130 rescued, hundreds still missing

- An estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million who have already fled the country


UNITED NATIONS — Russia's first deputy U.N. ambassador says Twitter has blocked his account, accusing him of “abuse and harassment,” due to a tweet about the maternity hospital in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

“This is very deplorable,” Dmitry Polyansky told reporters after a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday, “and this clearly illustrates how much alternative view and free press, and free information is valued by Twitter and in this country.”

Polyansky, who had more than 22,000 followers and was a prolific Twitter user, said he received a message earlier Friday from Twitter's cloud service saying he was violating Twitter's rules and was “engaged in abuse and harassment.”

He said Twitter referred to his warning in a tweet on March 7 “that the hospital in Mariupol had been turned into a military object by radicals. Very disturbing that UN spreads disinformation without verification.”

Associated Press journalists, who have been reporting from inside blockaded Mariupol since early in the war, documented the March 10 attack on the maternity hospital and saw the victims and damage firsthand. They shot video and photos of several bloodstained, pregnant mothers fleeing the blown-out maternity ward as medical workers shouted and children cried.

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to lift the siege of Mariupol, allow humanitarian access and order an immediate cease-fire, Macron's office said.

Macron spoke with the Russian leader on the phone for 70 minutes. Earlier in the day, Putin had a conversation with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who also pressed for an immediate cease-fire.

Macron, who has spoken numerous times with Putin, revisited complaints over repeated attacks on civilians and Russia's failure to respect human rights in Ukraine, the presidential Elysee Palace said.

It said that Putin, in turn, laid the blame for the war on Ukraine.

Macron, who is campaigning to renew his mandate in April elections, said during a town hall-style meeting shortly before the call that he talks to Putin because he believes there is a way toward peace, between the Ukrainian resistance, tough Western sanctions and diplomatic pressure. “We must do everything to find it,” he said.

KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian officer in charge of defending the region around the country's capital says his forces are well positioned to defend the city.

Maj. Gen. Oleksandr Pavlyuk said in an interview with The Associated Press that “the enemy is halted,” adding that “we are improving this system of defensive lines” to make Kyiv “inapproachable for the enemy.”

Despite three weeks of Russian bombardment, Ukraine has kept up a stiff defense of its cities. Fighting continued in Kyiv's suburbs, depriving thousands of heat and clean water.

“From time to time, the enemy tests our defenses,” said Pavlyuk, a battle-hardened officer who earned his rank by leading Ukrainian troops in the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that erupted in 2014. “But our boys are strong in their positions and also play an active role in preventing the enemy to fulfill their plans.”


Pavlyuk, who has been put in charge of Kyiv's defenses earlier this week, said that the Russians are using the same tactics as they used in the east to target civilian structures to try to break Ukraine's resistance.

“That's why now that war has been transformed into killing civilians, destroying civilian infrastructure, to frighten our people to the maximum,” he said. “But we will never give up."