• Russian forces are using banned anti-personnel mines to cover its tactical retreat in Ukraine, Human Rights Watch said.
  • The recent discovery of anti-personnel mines comes as Russia claims it is scaling back its assault near Kyiv.
  • Experts say Russian troops' use of anti-personnel mines as they withdraw from the region shows they don't plan another big attempt on Kyiv

Russian forces are using banned anti-personnel mines to cover its tactical retreat in Ukraine, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

Russia's use of these mines shows they know they've been defeated in the region and don't plan another assault on Kyiv, according to an expert from the Institute for the Study of War. 

"If you're laying mines all over the place it does suggest that you don't think you're going to be back there any time soon," Frederick Kagan, a military scholar from the Institute for the Study of War, told Insider. 

According to Kagan, Ukrainian troops had already defeated the Russian offensive on Kyiv and begun their own counter-offensive to push Russian troops back. Kagan said Russia's announcement that it would pull troops out of Ukraine's capital was "cover" to gain political capital after having to concede to defeat in Kyiv. 

On Monday, Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal teams located anti-personnel mines in the eastern region of Kharkiv, according to the report from Human Rights Watch. The deadly POM-3 mines can injure people up to 50 feet away, according to Human Rights Watch. The mines — which the group said "indiscriminately kill and maim" — are not used by the Ukrainian military and have reportedly been rigged to self-destruct if not activated over a period of time. 

Russia — and the US — did not agree to the 1997 international Mine Ban Treaty. Ukraine signed the treaty in 1999 and became a state party in 2005. They have used defensive mines for roadblocks in Kyiv. 

Mines are lined up at a roadblock, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. Foto: Pavlo Bagmut/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Kagan told Insider photos have shown that the Russians are indiscriminately placing mines rather than digging in and deeply laying them. 

"They're laying mines to delay the Ukrainian offensive so they can pull their troops out," Kagan said. "From what I've seen, they're doing this so hastily I think the demining process will be much less complicated than in areas where deep minefields have been laid."

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