In News: The UK Ministry of Defence, in its intelligence assessment of the ongoing war in Ukraine, has and sounded an alarm on the possible use of PFM-1 series ‘Butterfly Mines’ by the Russian military in Donetsk and Kramatorsk.
What is the intelligence assessment put out by UK?
- As per an intelligence bulletin, Russia is likely to have deployed anti-personnel mines to deter freedom of movement along its defensive lines in the Donbas.
- These mines have the potential to inflict widespread casualties amongst both the military and the local civilian population.
- Commonly called the ‘butterfly mine’, the PFM-1 series are deeply controversial, indiscriminate weapons.
- PFM-1s were used to devastating effect in the Soviet-Afghan War where they allegedly maimed high numbers of children who “mistook them for toys”.
- It added that it is highly likely that the Soviet-era stock being used by Russia will have degraded over time and is now unreliable and unpredictable.
- This poses a threat to both the local population and humanitarian mine clearance operations.
What is the ‘Butterfly Mine’ and why is it called so?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Because of the relatively lesser explosive packed in this small mine, it often injures and maims the handler rather than killing them.
- These mines are also difficult to detect because they are made of plastic and can evade metal detectors.
- 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.
- Since these mines were green in colour when they were first put to use they also earned the name ‘Green Parrots’.
What are the technical specifications of this mine?
- The PFM series mines are moulded in polythene plastic and have two wings, one of which is heavier than the other.
- The thicker wing is the pressure activation for the main fuse which is contained in the central body.
- The thinner wing acts as a stabiliser for the mine when it is air-dropped, thus giving it the name ‘butterfly’.
- As per data available on the mine, a pressure exceeding 5 kg will activate the mine which contains 40g of explosive.
- The rapid means of deployment of the mine and the fact that it can be indiscriminately scattered to impede the advance of an enemy makes it an attractive option for a field commander, regardless of the danger that these can pose for non-combatants living in the area.
Are these kinds of mines allowed by international law?
- The anti personal mines are banned by international convention on land lines 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 Landlines Protocol to which Russia and Ukraine are signatories.
- In the ongoing conflict, both countries have accused each other of having used these mines, since both posses them in sufficient numbers.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Question
Q.1) What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news? (2018)
- An Israeli radar system
- India’s indigenous anti-missile programme
- An American anti-missile system
- A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea.