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Ukraine aims to set global standard of investigating ecocide as war crime

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 20, 2023 6:24 PM 2 min read
Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin (C) a the meeting of the International Working Group on the Environmental Consequences of War on June 29, 2023. (Photo: Prosecutor General's Office/Telegram)
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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.  

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.

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.  

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…

The Prosecutor General's Office reported in June that Ukraine is investigating over 200 war crimes against the environment and 15 cases of ecocide.

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.

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.

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