Russia not to ban anti-personnel mines : Commander

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Moscow, Jan 16 (UNI) Russia is not planning to fully ban anti-personnel mines, Commander of Russian Armed Forces' Engineering Troops Col General Nikolai Serdtsev said today.

''The countries, which call most actively for the fulfillment of the 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction, are mainly situated on the islands and have never been subject to a foreign aggression,'' he said.

''Russia, with its enormous territory has repeatedly fallen victim to aggression and therefore should not abandon unequivocally this effective defensive weapon,'' Itar-Tass news agency quoted Gen Serdtsev as saying.

As of November 2007, the convention has been either signed or accessed by 158 countries. India, China, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the US have not signed it.

Gen Serdtsev pointed out that Russian military engineers were developing mines that meet demands of the current times.

''They are equipped with self-destruction devices, have various protection levels from a spontaneous detonation and are guided and remote-controlled,'' the general said.

He also noted that Russia needed anti-personnel mines not for assault actions, but only for defence.

''Our tanks are not based near the borders with other countries, but the NATO states are approaching our borders,'' he said.

''Therefore, those who would like to go a free march to Moscow should know that some mines, which were planted at various directions, would hamper their triumphant march,'' he stressed.

Gen Serdtsev said sappers of the Russian Defence Ministry defused about 760,000 mines in Russia in 2007.

Around 30,000 pieces of ammunition were rendered harmless in Chechnya last year. ''No sappers were hurt during demining operations,'' he added.

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