A Russian drone attack on an oil depot in Kharkiv overnight on Feb. 10 led to a fuel leak that has contaminated over 10,000 square meters of land, Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigative department of the regional police, said on Feb. 12.
The attack caused a fire that engulfed 15 homes and killed at least seven people, including a family with three children. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov later reported that 57 people had been injured in the attack and declared Feb. 11 as a day of mourning in the city.
Due to its proximity to the Russian border, Kharkiv and the surrounding oblast are frequently targeted by Russian drones and missiles.
Over 3,800 metric tons of fuel were stored in the targeted oil depot, Bolvinov told local media outlet Gwara.
In addition to polluting the land, these oil products reportedly spilled into the Nemyshlia River, which flows through Kharkiv.
Bolvinov said the State Environmental Inspection in Kharkiv Oblast had collected soil and water samples at the contamination sites for analysis.
The police are considering opening a criminal case under Article 441 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which covers ecocide, added Bolvinov.
As of October last year, Russian aggression in Ukraine caused more than 55.6 billion euros ($59.8 billion) in environmental damage, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in a speech on Oct. 20, citing figures from the Environmental Protection Ministry.
One of the most serious cases of environmental harm was caused by the destruction of the Kahovka hydroelectric plant on June 6, 2023, which led to massive floods in Ukraine's south and a large-scale humanitarian and environmental crisis.
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.