Chancellor Karl Nehammer has reaffirmed Austria’s commitment to not sending soldiers for demining operations in Ukraine. Instead, the country will provide vital financial support by allocating €2 million to the “International Trust Fund” (ITF), aimed at assisting Ukraine in its demining efforts. The government has firmly restated its position on not deploying Austrian troops, emphasizing its belief that neutrality should not equate to passivity.
Speaking at a press conference, Chancellor Nehammer emphasized that Austrian soldiers would refrain from entering Ukrainian territory for mine clearance, as long as it remains a war zone. He underscored the staggering challenge faced by Ukraine, with an area spanning 250,000 square kilometers already contaminated with landmines, an area nearly three times the size of Austria. It is estimated that approximately 10.6 million Ukrainians are in dire need of demining assistance.
Established by the Slovenian government in 1998, the ITF is an internationally operating humanitarian organization specializing in the removal of explosive remnants of war. In close collaboration with the Ukrainian Civil Protection Authority, the ITF will provide cutting-edge demining equipment to support Ukraine’s demining efforts. Austria’s allocation of €2 million to the ITF is a testament to its commitment to humanitarian aid.
Furthermore, Austria has been actively supporting the “Support Programme for Ukraine” under the auspices of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) since the previous year, with a particular focus on humanitarian demining. This multifaceted approach showcases Austria’s dedication to promoting stability and assisting Ukraine in its post-conflict recovery.
Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, reiterating the government’s position, stressed the profound impact of Austria’s contribution. He emphasized that Austria’s support would enable Ukrainian children to resume their education, fostering their development through the reopening of kindergartens and schools. Moreover, the allocation of resources would enhance food security, allowing farmers to cultivate their fields once again, paving the way for economic revitalization in affected regions.
Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg expressed unwavering solidarity with the Ukrainian population, particularly in the aftermath of Russia’s attack in February 2022. He pledged Austria’s steadfast commitment, stating that support for civilian demining would be extended for as long as necessary. Minister Schallenberg underscored the importance of Austria’s renewed assistance, highlighting its crucial role in combating the globally condemned hidden death traps, commonly referred to as landmines.
Austria’s unwavering stance on demining support for Ukraine, coupled with its financial commitment of €2 million to the ITF, signals the country’s determination to aid Ukraine’s recovery and long-term stability. Through international collaboration and a comprehensive approach to demining, Austria aims to alleviate the devastating impact of landmines and pave the way for a safer and prosperous future for the people of Ukraine.