Updated: 26-Jul-2002 Week of 8-14 July 2002

10 July 2002

Beating landmines into toys in Ukraine

On 10 July, a joint NATO-Ukraine project to reduce Ukraine's stock of landmines was launched in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Over the course of the next 12 months, 400,000 antipersonnel landmines - approximately 7% of Ukraine's total stockpile - will be destroyed and recycled into plastic toys.

The project is part of the NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund, which was established in November 2000 to assist NATO Partner countries in the safe destruction of surplus munitions and weapons. This is the first such project in Ukraine. "This project is a very concrete example of our practical cooperation on defence reform and our joint efforts to eliminate the legacy of the cold war," said NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at the opening ceremony.

Lord Robertson was in the Ukraine together with Permanent Representatives of the Alliance's 19 member countries, making up the North Atlantic Council, to take part in celebrations marking the fifth anniversary of the NATO-Ukraine partnership.

Eliminating a problem, creating capabilities

The Secretary General witnessed the destruction process, during which the plastic casing of the mines is crushed, so that no parts can be reused for their original purpose. They are then recycled to make toys for children, a sample of which was presented to the Secretary General.

The facility selected for the project - the Donetsk chemical plant - was modernised in order to make the destruction safe and in line with international standards. This investment will make it possible to use the plant for similar projects in the future.

This is an important element of Partnership for Peace projects - to build on local expertise and strengthen the capability of Partner countries to carry out defence reforms. The project was an initiative of the Canadian and Ukrainian governments, with funding provided by Canada, the Netherlands, Poland and Hungary. It is implemented by NATO's Maintenance and Supply Agency together with an Ukrainian company, Spivdruzhnist.

Additional information:
  • NATO Update: Celebrating five years of NATO-Ukraine partnership (documents, speeches and high resolution photos )
  • Webmodule on NATO-Ukraine Partnership