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Landmines in the Yugoslav Wars

Landmines in the Yugoslav Wars

Landmines were particularly brutal weapons widely used by all sides in the Yugoslav wars. Despite being deemed inhumane and viewed as obsolete on an international level, Yugoslavia maintained one of the biggest landmine stockpiles in the whole world. Yugoslavia’s military doctrine and strategy revolved heavily around the use of landmines in national defence, thus the population was properly acquainted with the concept of landmines.


Following Yugoslavia’s breakup and subsequent armed conflict, landmines saw heavy employment in the bloodiest warzones. Bosnia remains the most heavily mined nation in the world to this day, with some 2,4% of the national territory covered in landmines or other unexploded munitions, while Croatia and the Kosovo province are dealing with the same problem on a smaller scale. Despite having lost their strategic value over time, landmines were a convenient way of sealing off or fortifying frontline sectors or geographical areas,the VRS (Republic of Srpska Army) used thousands of mines in an effort to “close” the border with Bosnia. The mines were ultimately responsible for hundreds of civilian casualties and irreversible damage to both individuals and property across former Yugoslavia. Acres upon acres of farmland and forest remain littered with these horrific “souvenirs”, acting as fresh reminders of bygone bloodshed.


Different types and models of domestically produced landmines saw use. Lots of the Yugoslav models were based on existing Soviet ones. Widespread models include:

The PMA-2, often referred to as “pašteta” (Pâté) due to its shape, is a standard anti-personnel mine commonly found in the Balkans and beyond. It was made of plastic in two colour schemes; “normal” and winter. Due to the mine’s unique construction, the pressure plunger remains visible, though it is generally easy to conceal. These mines can be very difficult to disarm via traditional means due to the aforementioned construction and design. Although rarely fatal, it is almost given that the detonation will cause some form of permanent physical impairment.


The PROM-1 was a particularly unique and deadly mine, famous for quite literally “jumping” out of the ground when triggered (thus nicknamed “the frog”). It was extremely potent and lethal with an effective radius of up to 50 metres. The mine itself is very difficult to disarm due to a construction flaw regarding the fuse. Detonation is often the safest method of removal.

Other anti-personell mines include the PMR-3, PMR-U and the PPMP-2.

Anti-tank models include the five TMA models, TMD-1&2, TMM-1 and the TMRP-6.


The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia never ratified the 1997 mine ban treaty. The SFR Yugoslavia ratified Protocol II of the CCW in 1982. And FR Yugoslavia, as SFR Yugoslavia’s legal successor maintained this stance, though never having ratified the revised protocol.


The main anti-personnel mine factory in Yugoslavia was located in Bugojno, Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is estimated that dozens of millions of mines had been produced in all of Yugoslavia since the second world war. It is worth mentioning that Yugoslavia never imported any landmines, this sector of the military industry was entirely self-sufficient. Though the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ceased landmine production sometime between 1992-1995. they were widely used during the Kosovo war, and were deployed along the Croatian border.


Landmines continue to haunt fields, roads and forests and they are always a popular topic in the Balkans. Decontamination efforts are often entirely localised and inadequately funded. It is more than often up to the affected locals to avoid or deal with the mines themselves and there is general uncertainity whether the problem will ever truly be solved.