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TheHill| TheHill

Russia’s ongoing environmental crimes against Ukraine may be overlooked in light of the many war crimes committed against Ukraine’s people and civilians.

Russia is targeting Ukrainian energy facilities. The dark legacy of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster, which left behind tens of thousands of cases of cancer and extensive environmental damage, weighs heavily on the Ukrainians. Now, Ukrainians are witnessingunparalleledenvironmental destructionand theundoing of 18 years of progress.

It certainly felt like that dark legacy was in the rearview mirror on Earth Day 2005, justthree months after Ukraines Orange Revolution,when150,000 people, including 10,000 Chernobyl victims and their families, entered a plaza near Kievs Independence Square in a snowstorm.Independence Square was one of the main protest sites that Ukrainians occupied to protestthefraudulent electionof a ViktorYanukovych corrupt billionaire. These protests and a New elections were triggered by a decision by the Ukrainian Supreme Court. Many believed that Ukraine was finally free in 2005. Of course, it took another 10 years for a second revolution (The Revolution of Dignity) tofinally send the now Russian-controlledYanukovychpacking into Russian exile andtosolidify some democratic gains.Those gains cameat a great price,and Russian war crimes and hostilities fromtheCrimea takeover to the Donbas War have led Ukraine to where we are today.

However, on Earth Day 2005, the focus was not on the distant future but rather on what environmentalists could do to create a green future. The country was filled with optimism. The day was referred to as the Green Revolution meeting the Orange Revolution. Stores across Ukraine were decorated in green and orange flags. The Green Revolution, much like the first Earth Day which was a result of antiwar and civil right activism, harnessed energy from the countrys democracy, political movements, and in Ukraine, schools, universities,cities, and towns, people joinedinthe.Peaceful, hopeful environmental events

Politicalleaders showed uppromisingthe end to corruption and a reversal of the look-the-other-waypolicies toward the environment that had created a country-wide landscape of contamination and pollution. The Chernobyl accident became a worldwide parable about the environmental problems and the perils of nuclear power generally. However, most people believed a green revolution like those in the U.S. and Europe was possible.

The event gave the opportunity for Ukrainian advocacy groups, including Chernobyl survivors and environmental groups, to voice their concerns about environmental issues to a broad range of people. It also launched a campaign to pass legislation to address the country’s most serious environmental problems. Ukraine has made significant progress in the past two years. Reverse decades of contamination and pollution.

Now, just as Ukraine’s environmental movement is maturing, with many organizations approximating West’s influence, the unthinkable happens. First, an invasion, then Russian troops stormed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and took control of Chernobyl, which included 22,000 spent reactor fuel assemblies, and significant plutonium-239. The consequences could have been disastrous and they may still be.

The invasion continues to increase environmental crimes, causing extraordinary and deliberate damage. Russian missiles targeting industrial facilities have damaged major fuel facilities and spread toxic pollutants to populated areas. If they hadn’t been shot down, the Russians could have flooded Kyivhadit.

Other targets include power supplies for farms, creating biohazards for towns and warehouses containing hazardous materials.Intentional bombing of Water suppliesLocal populations have been devastated by sewage systems, and other facilities. Russian troops attacked major seaports, sinking ships and fuel storage areas, causing widespread contamination. More than a dozen Ramsar wetlands and forests, as well as protected areas and homes for endangered or threatened species, have been affected by the Russian invasions.Chernobyl is now under threat from forest firesIt has once again raised fears.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has broken dozens of Ukrainian laws, including many criminal provisions and global norms. These violations include:

Iryna Stauchuk, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, agreed, telling the world’s leaders last week that Russia’s war is a clear violationof international law, human rights and nuclear security. This could lead to a global ecological catastrophe.

These crimes and treaty violations will again lead to tragedy for the Ukrainian people and future generations.

NataliaBoiarchukis cofounder of Earth Day Ukraine.

Kathleen Rogers is president at EARTHDAY.ORG.

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