A Ukrainian farmer has devised a creative method of removing mines left in his fields during Russia’s invasion: he has outfitted his tractor with protective panels salvaged from Russian tanks and drives it remotely.
After a Ukrainian counteroffensive drove Russian forces back from parts of eastern Ukraine last year, mines remained in many fields, making it dangerous for farmers to sow grain for the next harvest.
Fields around the village of Hrakove are no exception. Oleksandr Kryvtsov, a general manager at his agricultural company, decided he couldn’t wait for help from overworked official deminers to clear his field.
Instead, he designed a remote-controlled tractor that could withstand blasts. Using armour from damaged Russian military vehicles to protect the body of his tractor, he bought a system that would enable one of his team to operate the tractor remotely from a digger’s bucket suspended in the air nearby.
“We started doing this just because the crop-sowing time has come and we can’t do anything because the rescue services are very busy,” Kryvtsov told Reuters.
“We ran over an anti-tank mine. The protection got blown out (but) the tractor is safe,” he said.” Everyone’s alive and safe. The equipment was restored and repaired.”
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said last week about 30% of Ukrainian territory had been mined by Russians and that the government was focused on de-mining agricultural land as quickly as possible.
“We have no time to demine the fields. The amount of work is enormous,” said Serhii Dudak, head of the demining unit now overseeing the tractor’s work. “It would take years to demine this particular field by hand and to guarantee that there are no mines here.”