United Nations-sponsored courses to teach Afghans to defuse the millions of mines left by Soviet troops in Afghanistan have been hampered by a lack of the most basic training aid - samples of the mines themselves.

Western diplomats said Moscow had ignored requests from the United Nations to give the instructors the types of mines its troops had planted."Maybe they planted so many they no longer have any to spare," joked a U.N. official.

However, some of the mines needed to help train Afghan refugees to defuse or destroy the weapons could come from other sources, the official said. He did not give details.