In the frame of EU solidarity to Ukraine, the European Commission set out to train and donate a total of 50 explosive and mine detection dogs to the Ukrainian authorities, by the end of 2024. As a consequence of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, thousands of mines and other explosive threats are left scattered across a contaminated land area equivalent to Austria, Denmark, and The Netherlands together. This leaves Ukraine with the unprecedented challenge of sweeping clean this extensive area, which accounts for more than 30% of its territory.
On 9 November 2023, a handover ceremony took place at the Polish Border Guard base in Nowy Sacz, during which an additional batch of eight newly trained explosive and mine detection dogs were delivered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and their Humanitarian Demining Battalion. This ceremony completed a final two-week training, during which the mine detection dogs were paired with their Ukrainian dog handlers.
The dogs that are helping rebuild Ukraine
The project was launched in October 2022 by the European Commission and the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), when the first nine dogs started undergoing training. These agile, medium-sized dogs are trained to locate mines and unexploded munitions in and outside buildings and vehicles that have been burned or bombed, but also in the vast fields of Ukraine. The demining dogs will now be supported by metal detection drones provided by the European Commission, which scan the fields before the dogs are deployed in the suspect areas. This approach has performed well in simulations so far but will now be tested against real threats in Ukraine.
Another component of this EU action in support to Ukraine is the detection of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats. The European Commission has been establishing a protocol to detect radiological threats, using trained dogs equipped with radiological detection sensors. This pilot approach has been successfully tested by the Luxembourgish Police and will enable the Ukrainian Armed Forces to detect stolen radioactive sources hidden in buildings by organised crime networks.
EU Explosive Detection Dog Working Group project
Since the first two months following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission assembled a specialised team from across the EU to assist the Ukrainian demining efforts. Belgium and Poland are two key partners that have been instrumental in the implementation of this project. The Belgian military and the Carpathian Unit of the Polish Border Guard have provided appropriate military grounds simulating the areas of intervention in Ukraine for the dogs to be trained.
The EU training programme for the dogs that are helping clear the cities, countryside, and fields of Ukraine from all kinds of explosives, was developed by the European Commission with the support of law enforcement members of the EU Explosive Detection Dog Working Group. In total, the EU is financing the training of and logistics for 50 mine detection dogs, pre-trained in Belgium and paired with their Ukrainian handlers during a special training session, before being handed over to the Ukrainian authorities. The estimated cost for the 50 detection dogs is approximately EUR 2 million.
- Publication date
- 14 November 2023
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs