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PM Shmyhal: Russia's damage to Ukrainian environment amounts to nearly $60 billion

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 20, 2023 9:41 PM 1 min read
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal speaking at the International Forum United for Justice - United for Nature in Kyiv on Oct. 20, 2023. (Communications Department of the Cabinet of Ministers)
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The total environmental damage caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine amounts to more than 55.6 billion euros ($58.9 billion), Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in a speech on Oct. 20, citing figures from the Environmental Protection Ministry.

Speaking at the International Forum United for Justice - United for Nature, Shymhal said that "half of these losses are due to air pollution from forest fires, missile attacks, and the burning of oil products."

He did not specify whether this includes damages caused prior to the full scale invasion.

Mines and unexploded ordnances left behind by Russian troops cover an estimated 174,000 square kilometers of Ukraine's territory, and more than 3 million hectares of forest have been affected by the war, according to the ministry’s figures.

The damage resulting from the destruction of the Kahkovka dam amounts to 3.8 billion euros ($4 billion) and is "the largest act of ecocide in the last 70 years," Shmyhal said.

The flooding destroyed irrigation systems on farmland that usually grows around 2 million metric tons of grain per year, he explained.

"This amounts to 70% of the grain exported by Ukraine to Africa in 2022," the Prime Minister said.

Shmyhal said that Ukraine hopes to set up a "compensation mechanism" together with western partners that will use confiscated Russian assets to pay for the damage.

Ukraine is also working with international partners to help train Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to investigate ecocide, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said at the same summit.

Ukraine is "the first country in history" to investigate the mass destruction of the environment as a war crime, Kostin said.

By purposefully destroying the environment, Russia "is trying to destroy the future life of Ukrainians."

Ecocide is therefore "a crime against Ukraine as a state and our future,"  Kostin said.

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