Small Wars Journal

A Global Call to Action: De-Mining Ukraine Requires International Collaboration and Investment

Sat, 03/25/2023 - 11:03am

A Global Call to Action: De-Mining Ukraine Requires International Collaboration and Investment


By Daniel Rice


The war in Ukraine is ongoing, and while the focus is on winning battles and planning reconstruction, one critical aspect is being overlooked: de-mining. As the Russian invasion has left millions of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and landmines across 27% of Ukraine's territory, we must take urgent action to prevent further civilian casualties and ensure the future prosperity of the region. It is time for an international effort on the scale of the Marshall Plan or the Manhattan Project to address this monumental challenge.

The Ukraine National DeMining Center Commander and his team are working tirelessly to clear mines and UXOs, but they are severely under-funded, under-staffed, and under-resourced. The sheer scale of the problem necessitates a global response. World powers and international organizations must come together and pool resources to fund a multi-billion-dollar effort that coordinates governmental, non-governmental, and private sector efforts.

The priority for demining should be clearing critical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, railways, and power stations. This task alone is monumental, requiring highly specialized personnel and equipment. For example, combat-trained SCUBA divers are needed to clear bridges of mines and UXOs.

The farmland is another critical area for demining. Ukraine, known as the breadbasket of the world, has at least 2.5 million hectares of land littered with ordnance, making it unusable for farming. This has significant implications not only for Ukraine's economy but also for global food security. The land could potentially generate $6 billion per year in agricultural exports, and this opportunity cost must be factored into any financial analysis of the demining initiative.

The U.S. State Department's recent $89 million contract for 100 de-mining teams is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. Companies like John Deere, Caterpillar, and Case New Holland should be incentivized to develop and manufacture advanced demining equipment. Furthermore, drone companies should compete for contracts to map, identify, and safely destroy UXOs, with satellite imagery used to coordinate efforts.

As the President of the American University Kyiv, I recognize the moral responsibility we have to be involved in all aspects of this conflict. We seek to support the de-mining challenge by organizing a conference in Washington D.C., bringing together experts from the de-mining industry, the agricultural sector, drone companies, NGOs, aid agencies, and financial institutions.

The time for action is now. The world must come together and commit to a Marshall Plan or Manhattan Project-level initiative to clear Ukraine of mines and UXOs. Doing so will not only save lives but also ensure the economic and agricultural future of Ukraine and its people and feed the world.  The cost of inaction is too great to bear.


About the Author(s)

Dan is the President American University Kyiv and Co-President Thayer Leadership and a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He served his commitment as an Airborne-Ranger qualified Field Artillery officer. In 2004, he voluntarily re-commissioned in the Infantry to serve in Iraq for 13 months.  He has been awarded the Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Airborne Badge and cited for ‘courage on the field of battle” by his Brigade Commander. 


Dan has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Small Wars Journal, and Chief Executive magazine. In 2013, he published and co-authored his first book, West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage, which features 200 of West Point graduates who have helped shape our nation, including the authorized biographies of over 100 living graduates.. The book received 3 literary awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association plus an award from the Military Society Writers of America (MSWA). Dan has appeared frequently on various news networks including CNN, FOX News, FOX & Friends, Bloomberg TV, NBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show.


Ed.D., ABD, Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education (graduation expected 2023)

MS.Ed., Leadership & Learning, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 2020

M.S., Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill Graduate School, Northwestern University, 2018

M.B.A., Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 2000

B.S., National Security, United States Military Academy, 1988

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