- The priority of the Ukrainian government is civilian and political welfare, so environmental destruction was largely overlooked during the Russian invasion.
- Civilians and experts have come together to report more than 100 incidents of crimes against the environment. The goal is to bring Russia to justice through international courts.
- Activists warn that environmental impacts can lead to humanitarian crises.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, declared a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The attack, which was widely considered to be the second-most powerful military force in the world, took place on six fronts, air, land, and sea, and spanned 3,000 km (1,900 miles) along the Ukrainian border.
According to the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), As of April, nearly 2,900 civilians had been killed. 29It is possible that the actual number is much higher. More than 5.3 millions peopleYou have fled the country.
These injustices are too many to ignore. Yet, crimes against the environment remain largely unreported. Although environmental damage may seem insignificant in the face death and displacement, it is crucial for Ukraine’s socioeconomic recovery following the war.
It is against the law to use weapons or methods of warfare that are expected to cause or contribute to widespread, long-term and severe damage to the environment, according to the Geneva Convention.
However, the environmental consequences of the Russia/Ukraine conflict are severe and long-lasting, and will likely affect generations of Ukrainians, according to Olena Malyukivska. She is an associate professor at the Department of Environmental Studies of the National University of Kyiv -Mohyla Academy.
Maslyukivska is herself a refugee and says that environmental activists had to keep track of these damages secretly and that ongoing wars have made it difficult to collect and analyze the data.
We were advised not to publicly report any environmental damage that occurs during wartime, so that the enemy knows how effective their bombing is, she said, citing the example of a TikToker from Ukraine. The location of civilians was not revealedIn a viral video, Russia is seen bombing a supermarket and killing eight civilians that day.
These difficulties aside, experts and civilians have rallied their forces, resulting in a record of achievements. More than 100 instances of environmental damage have been reported.Directly resulting from the war’s first month alone, and compiled by Ecoaction Ukraine. The call to report environmental crimes was The Ukrainian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources initiated the initiativeNGOs like Ekoida or other civil society organizations promptly support them.
Although the full extent of environmental damage can only be calculated after the war is over, the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine has declared A preliminary estimate of $77 millionFor the pollution of land resources only.
Maslyukivska states that all this evidence is necessary to later appeal to international courts and receive compensation to the environment for any damages.
She says that the bombings of industrial plants, oil depots and coal-fired power plant are the most significant environmental impacts (30% to 40%).
These bombings have caused fires and massive greenhouse gas emissions, as well as air pollution that has adversely affected the lives of war victims. On February 27, for instance, the Vasylkiv oil depot was hit by missilesThe result was the burning of 20,000 cubic metres (5.3 million gallons of gasoline) and diesel at approximately 200 to 300 gas stations.
The Russian military occupation and control of Ukrainian nuclear power plants has been a major environmental threat. Two weeks ago (March 14-28), the Russian military occupation of Ukrainian nuclear power plants resulted in a significant environmental threat. In the Chernobyl exclusion zones, more than 30 fires have been recordedIt was caused by bombings. It’s been reportedRussian troops found radioactive material on their feet and clothing in the Red Forest near Chernobyl while digging trenches and building bunkers, and while riding armored vehicles through it. According to reports, this radioactive dust has been found in the soil. You were exempted from the exclusion zoneAs a result of military activities.
Chernobyl is now under Ukrainian control. Zaporizhya however, the largest nuclear power station on the continent, remains under Russian occupation. Russia has taken Ukrainian personnel from the nuclear facilities as hostages and all control has been given to Russian troops. This raises unprecedented concerns about nuclear radiation in this region.
The immeasurable effects of war may be even more devastating. The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources Made a preliminary estimateOn April 1, Russian soldiers occupied almost one-third (12.407 square kilometers or 4,790 sq miles) of Ukraine’s protected areas. The government is particularly concerned about Ukraines Ramsar Sites, wetland regions of international importance along the countrys coastlines and rivers.
Ukraine has 6% of Europe’s total land area, but is home to 6%. 35% of the continent’s biodiversity. Parts of Ukraine such as the Kharkiv Region play an important role in providing a resting place for migrating shorebirds. More than 800 species and 500 species are protected from the country’s biota of over 70,000 species.
Also, ecosystem services, the benefits human society depends upon from healthy ecosystems have been greatly disrupted. Ukraine is home to a wealth of ecological services. one-thirdAgriculture is the largest sector of exports from soil-rich countries. It is one of the most fertile and productive black soils in the globe. Ukraine is the breadbasket of the globe, with more than 12% of all food calories exported by the Black Sea region alone.
However, Ukraine banned exports of agricultural products on March 9 due to war. This was a blow to many Middle East and North African countries. Extreme food price shocks. For almost 80% of its wheat supply, Lebanon is dependent on Ukraine. Experts warn that Russia’s war on Ukraine could lead to a Global food crisis.
Russia’s invasion also led to Wildfires, oil and chemical polluting in Ukrainian soils and waters, and wastewater in rivers. Maslyukivska explains that environmental impacts can also result in humanitarian crises. Many victims of war now live in basements without basic access water or sanitation because of the rampant contamination and destruction of natural resources.
Maslyukivska believes there are still glimmers for hope amid the tragedy. She believes the war has brought her family closer together than ever before.
They thought our people would accept Russians. They thought they could take Kyiv within three days. They are actually losing now, and the fact that Russia is beating us is transforming our entire society in a very short amount of time, she states. This war is not about Russia and Ukraine. It is the war between the future and the past, between tyranny or the free world.
Banner image:After a Russian bombardment in Kharkiv Ukraine on Thursday, April 21, 20,22, a car with two people inside burns. Image by AP Photo/Felipe Dana via Flickr.