Russian aggression causes irreparable damage to the environment

November 7,2022 440
Russian aggression causes irreparable damage to the environment

Russian military aggression is not leaving any component of the environment unscathed – air, water, soil, flora, fauna, as well as auxiliary infrastructure facilities, Ruslan Hrechanyk, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources told the Khmarochos.

“One trillion hryvnias is needed to restore the environment. But every day the number of losses increases,” said Hrechanyk on Oct. 25.

Two weeks later, the Chamber of Accounts named an even higher figure for the estimate of the damage to the Ukrainian environment – UAH 1.35 trillion.

According to the Operational Headquarters for Fixing Ecocrimes of Russia, since the beginning of the war, emissions of hazardous substances into the air due to forest fires, oil products’ and industrial facilities’ burning have exceeded 67 million tons (for comparison, in 2021 and 2020, emissions were only 2.2 million tons per year).

Almost a third of the Ukrainian forest territory (3 million hectares) was affected by the war. Some of the forests are lost forever, the Accounting Chamber states.

However, it is inadequate to only count Russians’ damage to Ukraine alone. Contamination of the environment in Ukraine affects the world’s well-being in general, and the deleterious impact can last for generations, WWW-Ukraine notes.

For example, 2.9 million hectares of the Emerald Network are at risk, which represents a significant part of this natural protection network in Europe. Almost 600,000 hectares of sixteen Ramsar Sites with the status of wetlands of international importance are also facing destruction.

In general, according to Ruslan Hrechanyk, the war has already affected a fifth of the total area of all Ukrainian protected areas. The territories under enemy occupation, as well as those where hostilities took place, suffered the greatest amount of damage.

Mines are another source of threat to the environment. “Russia has turned our fertile black soils into the most explosively polluted lands in the world,” the Accounting Chamber writes. “About a third of the territory of Ukraine will require demining, which will take at least 10 years.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls Ukraine one of the most mine-contaminated countries in the world, noting that even before the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, “over 1.8 million people were already living surrounded by mines for eight years.”

“According to preliminary estimates of the State Emergency Service, about 170,000 square meters are contaminated with explosive objects and mines. These are territories occupied by the Russians, as well as areas where enemy troops were stationed and where hostilities are still taking place. However, these numbers are not final,” Khmarochos writes.

Landmines are hurting not only humans but animals as well when the latter step into the mines, activating them. The non-governmental organization UAnimals has launched an international campaign demanding that Russia be punished for ecocide in Ukraine and calls to sign the Stop Ecocide in Ukraine petition on

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