Russian invasion caused environmental damage estimated at $10 billion: Ukraine

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Ukraine’s environment ministry has accused Russia of committing crimes causing billions of dollars in damage to Ukraine’s natural resources during the six-month invasion of the Kremlin.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine stated in a telegram station Thursday that it had recorded more than 2,000 incidents of Russian forces damaging the country’s air, soil and water. The post is the latest report outlining the disastrous consequences of the conflict for Ukraine’s environment. The ministry said it was recording the incidents in a bid to hold the Kremlin accountable.

“Since the beginning of the large-scale invasion of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, we have recorded all the crimes of the occupier against the environment in order to make it [Russian President Vladimir Putin] pay in full for what he did to the people of Ukraine,” the ministry’s message read.

The ministry estimated the total degradation of Ukraine’s soil and water resources and air pollution caused by the Russian invasion to be worth 395 billion Ukrainian hryvnia (more than $10 billion).

A rescue worker from the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry attends a drill in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17, 2022, in the event of a crisis at the nuclear power plant near the city. Ukraine’s environment ministry said the Russian invasion caused billions of dollars in damage to Ukraine’s natural resources.
Dimitar DILKOFF/Getty Images

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) reported last month that its monitoring revealed that both rural and urban areas of Ukraine could face “a toxic legacy for generations to come”. The agency said it was still checking for pollution and ecological damage from thousands of possible incidents that could spill over to neighboring countries.

“The mapping and initial review of environmental risks only serve to confirm that war is literally toxic,” UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said in a statement.

She added that Ukraine “will need enormous international support to assess, mitigate and repair the damage across the country and mitigate the risks for the entire region.”

Reports from the media, conservation groups and government agencies have already sounded the alarm that the war has killed thousands of dolphins in the Black Sea, many believed to be stranded in Turkey.

UNEP said the conflict caused environmental hazards after oil and gas infrastructure and other industrial facilities were hit. Both sides in the war reported damaged industrial facilities that spewed harmful chemicals into the air near civilian populations.

In April, Luhansk regional administrator Serhiy Haidai urged residents to take shelter after Russian forces hit a nitrogen tank in Ukraine. Russian-backed separatists said this month that part of the city of Donetsk was filled with ammonia after Ukrainian forces hit a brewery.

One of Ukraine’s biggest environmental concerns is the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was seized by Russian troops in March. Ukrainian officials and others have accused Russia of courting nuclear disaster by stationing forces at the plant.

Newsweek contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.


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