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Retired U.S. Army Soldier in Ukraine: Unexploded Russian Ammo Will Be ‘Landmine Threat’ for Decades

Russian Artillery Attack. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Ret. US. SGT: Aging Russian Artillery Become De Facto Land Mines: Retired U.S. Army SGT Jonathan Lubecky told 19FortyFive on Wednesday that aging ammunition used by Russian forces fails so frequently that ammunition could be left undiscovered in Ukraine for decades.

Ukraine Artillery Shell Damage. Retired U.S. Army SGT Jonathan Lubecky provided this photo to 19FortyFive.

In an exclusive interview with 19FortyFive, the Iraq veteran also explained how local people believe Russia’s interest in Ukraine goes beyond the country’s historical connections with the land and may actually be connected to mining operations in Ukraine.

The following interview is an extract of an hour-long discussion with Lubecky, which spanned his aid work in Ukraine and observations from local people in Donetsk Oblast.

Vladimir Putin claimed in October that it was not his intention to destroy Ukraine. From what you’ve told me today, that doesn’t appear to be the case. What is your take on this?

“Go look at the pictures, the videos, he’s literally levelling all the towns in the Donbas. As we were driving, some of the people I’m with are from here, so they were pointing out different things.

There’s a ton of mining in the Donbas. This war is over coal and natural resources; this isn’t about ethnic Russians like Putin said it was. Because if you want what’s under the ground, you don’t care what you do with what’s on top of it.

That’s what locals are saying?

“That’s what locals are saying and including people who used to be Russian separatists and are no longer separatists. “

Russian separatists who no longer support the Russian invasion? What changed their minds?

“When the Russians drop an artillery shell on your house and kill your wife, you change your mind. You realize it’s not to come and rescue you. It’s like the U.S. saying we went into Fallujah to liberate it.

And here’s the thing, dude, this is worse than anything I ever saw in Iraq.”

Unexploded RPG in Ukraine

Retired U.S. Army SGT Jonathan Lubecky provided this photo to 19FortyFive. Exploded RPG in Ukraine.

What do you make of reports that Russia is relying on decades-old ammunition?

“What I can tell you is, based on what I’ve personally seen, they’re using tube artillery.

So, alright, US artillery has changed a hell of a lot since World War II. We’re not using World War II stuff, everything is new in America, but when you think of artillery and men loading shells, that’s what the Russians are using.

I can tell you based on what I saw, there’s a lot of duds. Which would tell me either, it’s a manufacturing issue, or the artillery is old as hell.

But if you look at some of the pictures, I sent you a picture of an impact crater on the side of the road and there were at least 20 duds on the ground nearby. And one of the problems is that they also mined the entire area so you can’t step off the pavement. Not only that, but while the duds might not explode when they’re supposed to, that doesn’t mean they won’t at some other point.”

Unexploded Artillery Shell in Ukraine

Retired U.S. Army SGT Jonathan Lubecky provided this photo to 19FortyFive.

You’re saying these are effectively becoming land mines?


And also, it’s entirely possible some of them could never go off. Think about this, you grew up in the UK, they randomly find undetonated ordinance from World War II. That’s something Ukraine’s going to face for the next 50 years.”

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. 

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.