Ukraine: ‘These people are doing gigantic work’ – Borrell meets with mine removal operatives near Kiev

EU Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met with a team of Ukrainian mine clearance specialists, known as ‘sappers’, reportedly near the village of Nemeshayevo in the Kiev region on Friday.

Earlier, the EU High Representative had announced that the bloc would be sending an additional 2.5 million euros to Ukraine to assist with de-mining projects in endangered areas.

Borrell was seen alongside Mary Akopian, Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs of Ukraine as he greeted sappers and inspected demining equipment in a snowy forested area.

“Many thanks to Mr Chairman, Vice-President Joseph Borrell for his assistance in clearing Ukrainian territories of mines. We estimate 30 per cent [of the territory] as potentially mined today. That’s 174,000 square kilometres, which is about as much as four Switzerlands,” Akopian said.

“Thank you very much for the new aid. 25 million will definitely be allocated for the purchase of equipment. For 11 months our troops have been working in manual mode with outdated overalls,” she said.

In response, Borrell applauded Ukrainian sappers for their ‘gigantic work’ in making areas safe for civilians.

“I believe Ukraine is one of the most contaminated countries in the world by military artefacts of any kind and these people are doing a gigantic work in order to clean the landscape and to make it safe,” he said.

Josep Borrell is visiting Ukraine alongside President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and 14 other top EU officials. They arrived in Kiev on Thursday ahead of the EU – Ukraine summit.

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