Russian Mines Left in Kyiv Retreat a 'Disaster', Zelensky Claims

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address that retreating Russian forces are causing a "complete disaster" and accused them of leaving behind landmines, even "mining" the bodies of the dead as they retreat from Kyiv.

Zelensky made the claim early on Saturday morning as Ukrainian forces were reportedly advancing around Kyiv amid a Russian withdrawal from the vicinity of the capital city.

The Ukrainian president told his citizens that they should wait until the mines were cleared before trying to resume their normal lives.

"They are mining the whole territory," Zelensky said. "They are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed. There are a lot of trip wires, a lot of other dangers."

Zelensky's claims have not been independently verified. Newsweek has asked the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministries for comment on the matter.

According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 164 countries have signed the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (sometimes referred to as the Ottawa Convention), which was established in 1997. Ukraine has signed the treaty, along with all of mainland Europe including Belarus. Russia, however, is not one of the signatories, and nor is the U.S. or China.

Zelensky's comments come as the UK's Ministry of Defence (MOD) reported on Saturday morning that Russian forces are withdrawing from the area around Kyiv, while Ukrainian forces are advancing.

"Ukrainian forces continue to advance against withdrawing Russian forces in the vicinity of Kyiv. Along the north western axis, Ukrainian forces' attempts to advance from Irpin towards Bucha and Hostomel are ongoing," the ministry's latest intelligence assessment said.

"Russian forces are reported to have withdrawn from Hostomel airport, which has been subject to fighting since the first day of the conflict. Along the eastern axis, Ukraine has re-taken several villages," the MOD tweeted.

Earlier this week, Russian officials said they would reduce military activity around Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv and suggested a meeting could take place between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, local officials in Chernihiv, including the regional governor and the mayor of the city, later criticized Russia and accused the country of breaking its promises to reduce military action in the area.

Zelensky Attends the Munich Security Conference
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (not pictured) at the 2022 Munich Security Conference on February 19, 2022 in Munich, Germany. Zelensky has said Russian forces are mining the bodies of the dead as they retreat. Matt Dunham - Pool/Getty Images