Zelenskyy calls environmental devastation in Ukraine ‘ecocide’ by Russian invaders
Russia's strikes on critical infrastructure facilities provoke large-scale fires, tons of hazardous substances enter the air (Photo:Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his speech at the G20 summit talked of the enormous sale of devastating Ukraine’s environment caused by the Russian invasion, dubbing Russia's actions a "ecocide" of Ukraine's nature.
In his online address to world leaders at the summit in Bali, Indonesia on Nov. 15, Zelenskyy said millions of hectares of forest had been burned and millions of domestic and wild animals killed during the Russian invasion.
He said it was impossible to accurately estimate the amount of air pollution caused by burnt oil depots and other fires. But this was not the only source of pollution, he said:
"As well as blown up sewage facilities, burned chemical plants, (there are) innumerable burial sites of slayed animals,” he said.
“Just imagine this – due to the Russian aggression, six million domestic animals died. Six million! These are official numbers. At least 50,000 dolphins were killed in the Black Sea. Thousands of hectares of soil are contaminated with harmful substances - most of them are fertile soils – were fertile soils.”
He said about 200,000 hectares of Ukrainian land was filled with mines and unexploded shells.
Russian invasion forces have flooded dozens of coal mines and endangered not only the region's rivers, but all the Black Sea basin due to the flooding of an underground nuclear test explosion site. The test was carried out in 1979, in Soviet times, and radiation from the flooded site could contaminate Ukraine and the Black Sea, Zelenskyy warned.
Zelenskyy also said that this month, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference in Egypt, he had proposed to create a platform to assess the environmental damage done to Ukraine by Russia’s war.
"We must also find common responses to all environmental threats created by the war,” Zelenskyy said.
“Without this, there will be no return to a normal, stable life, and the reverberations of the war will remain for a long time – in the explosions of mines that will take the lives of children and adults, in the pollution of water, soil and atmosphere.”
The Accounting Chamber of Ukraine on Nov. 6 said it estimated Russia had done damage to the Ukrainian environment worth almost UAH 1.4 trillion (about $38 billion).
Every day, due to forest fires, the burning of oil products and the burning of industrial facilities, dangerous substances enter the air, environmental experts warn.
According to estimates, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the number of such emissions has exceeded 67 million tons. In 2020 and 2021, these numbers were only 2.2 million tons per year.
Scientists are also concerned by a sharp rise in dolphin deaths in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea basin since the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Their mass death is being investigated by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office.
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