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Economy Minister: Russia has committed 2,500 crimes against the environment

by The Kyiv Independent news desk October 21, 2023 8:55 PM 3 min read
Volunteers launch a boat during relief efforts in flooded Kherson Oblast following Russia's destruction of the Kakhovka dam on June 14, 2023. (Photo: Anthony Bartaway)
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Ukraine has already documented 2,500 war crimes committed by Russia against the environment since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Economy Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko said during an event on Oct. 21.

Each day of war causes an estimated 120 million euros ($127 million) in damages per day, she said.

"(Russians) brutally kill Ukrainians, they destroy our cities and villages, they destroy our forests, our great natural resources, fields and lakes," Svyrydenko said.

One of the most serious cases is the destruction of the Kahkova hydroelectric plant on June 6, which caused massive floods in Ukraine's south and a large-scale humanitarian and environmental crisis.

One million Ukrainians lost access to drinking water, the flood impacted 100,000 residents in 80 settlements, and 140,000 were left without electricity as a result of Russia blowing up the dam, Svyrydenko said.

This included pollution of water and soil, death of animal and plant life, and drying of the Kakhovka Reservoir.

Another key issue is mines and unexploded ordinance left behind by Russian troops, which has rendered almost a third of Ukrainian land unsafe.

Around 250 people have been killed so far by mines in Ukraine, and more than 500 have been injured, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Oct. 9. Another six million are likely threatened.

Ukraine is "the first country in history" to investigate the mass destruction of the environment, also known as ecocide, as a war crime, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said at a press conference on Oct. 20.

Prosecutor General: Ukraine investigating 15 cases of ecocide
Ukraine is investigating over 200 war crimes against the environment and 15 cases of ecocide, the Prosecutor General’s Office said on June 29.

Ukraine is working together with international partners to help train Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to investigate ecocide, Kostin said.

The goal is "to create a mechanism and standards for bringing to justice those who would have the desire to commit the same crimes in another part of the world," according to Kostin.

He said Russia should pay for the damage it caused to the Ukrainian environment during the war while admitting it would be difficult.  

Kostin said that Ukrainian law enforcement officers were working on establishing the standards of investigation and prosecution against those responsible for war crimes against the environment and ecocide.

"And we believe that this crime (ecocide - ed.) will be one of the recorded international crimes. We believe that it will be included in the Rome Statute," Kostin said, referring to the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.

Russia is covering Ukraine with landmines. Clearing them will be extremely difficult
In March 2022 right after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, a cell phone video apparently taken by a Russian soldier captured two “Zemledeliye” mobile mine-laying systems thought to be stationed in Kharkiv Oblast. Positioned against a drab backdrop of what was once farmland, the “Zemledeli…
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