The catastrophic environmental consequences of the war
Millions of refugees, the threat of world hunger, the energy crisis - the war in Ukraine, launched by President Putin and lasting more than three months, has had dramatic consequences for the entire world.
The war against Ukraine not only destroys entire cities, kills people and destroys infrastructure, but also affects the environment, poisoning waterways and threatening ecosystems.
Damage to light industry and environmentally sensitive infrastructure, such as wastewater treatment plants and sewage systems, can create problems that can take years to fix.
Russia is the world's largest exporter of natural gas, the second largest supplier of crude oil and the third largest exporter of charcoal. Before the invasion of Ukraine, three-quarters of Russia's gas and nearly half of its crude oil went to Europe. In 2020, Russian oil, gas and charcoal accounted for a quarter of the EU's energy consumption.
But since February 24, the EU has decided to gradually free itself from dependence on Russian energy supplies. "We simply cannot rely on a supplier that clearly threatens us," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in March.
Already in March, the European Commission announced its intention to completely stop supplying the EU with Russian fossil fuels by 2030 and announced plans to cut imports of Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of the year.
One of the points of this plan is to increase fuel reserves in gas storage facilities. Another temporary option is to import liquefied natural gas from, for example, the United States. At the same time, some experts predict a shortage of gas and do not rule out the option of energy rationing.
Food and energy shortages since the outbreak of war in Ukraine have led to widespread price increases and inflation.
Food prices have experienced a particularly sharp upward spike. Food price index of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which reflects the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food products, reached a record high level in March this year.
According to the International Labor Organization, global inflation has more than doubled in the year from March 2021. In the eurozone, inflation hit a record high of 8.1% last month. At the same time, it is predicted to hit low-income countries even harder. While, according to a recent IMF forecast, inflation in industrialized countries could rise to 5.7%, the rate for developing countries will be 8.7%.
The war in Ukraine has changed the lives of Ukrainians forever. So far, there is no aspect of our lives that has not been affected by the Russian invasion.
A survey commissioned by the Wall Street Journal and the NORC Research Institute at the University of Chicago found that more than half of Ukrainians interviewed had lost friends or relatives in the war.
Two thirds of the respondents confessed that because of the war they had lost their job or the possibility to earn money for living.
All this was the reason why 89% of Ukrainians consider unacceptable the potential signing of an agreement with Russia, which would include territorial concessions of Ukraine for the sake of achieving peace.
78% of respondents support the way Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responds to the Russian invasion.
Besides the thousands of deaths and destruction of critical infrastructure, Ukraine may be haunted for years by another, less obvious, but no less severe crisis related to the Russian invasion: the ecological crisis. From shelled chemical plants to forests burned out by shelling, the consequences will be felt not only by Ukraine's ecosystems, but also by its people.
The list of damage caused by the armed conflict in Ukraine following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 is long and, without proper attention, could last for years.
"Conflict Observatory" has reported that the impact of the war on the environment began even before the large-scale invasion began. Building up military forces and maintaining their preparedness can consume a lot of resources.
Military equipment and vehicles need energy, usually derived from oil, and the CO2 emissions of numerous military formations are greater than those of many countries in the world combined.
After the start of the full-scale invasion, danger is increasing and the harm is much more evident.
In addition to the destruction of nature due to forest fires caused by shelling, thousands of dolphins have been found dead in the Black Sea, which may be the result of increased noise from shipping and the use of powerful hydroacoustic systems by the navy. Data on dolphin deaths was collected by the National Natural Park of the Tuzlinskiy Firth of Ukraine.
The environmental threats that have arisen in Ukraine as a result of the Russian large-scale invasion are also exacerbated by the fact that the country's industry is also experiencing destruction.
After all, heavy industry is a significant part of Ukraine's economy, especially in its east.
One of the high-risk threats are the tailing storage facilities, where liquid industrial waste is stored. There are 465 of them in the country and they store more than 6 billion tons of waste. 200 of them are located in eastern Ukraine, the region most affected by the war.
A 2019 study by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found that the potential threats associated with damage to these facilities include risks of flooding, explosions, and chemical, environmental and fire hazards.
According to an assessment by the Dutch peacekeeping organization PAX war, Ukraine has already been on the verge of an environmental disaster since the start of the war in Donbas in 2014. This was avoided by establishing de-escalation lines to prevent the bombing of chemical factories and constant monitoring by the OSCE.
However, since that period, many industrial facilities that store huge amounts of toxic and radioactive waste have been in poor condition due to the effects of previous attacks and lack of maintenance.
By May 2022, Ukraine's Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources had recorded 231 environmental crimes allegedly committed by Russia. This number only increases every day and causes even more irreparable damage to the ecological state of our world.
Experts from "Ecodia: Center for Environmental Initiatives" says that in addition to documenting all environmental damage (in order to make Russia pay for it), it is important to include ecosystem restoration and protection in Ukraine's recovery plan, as well as community restoration with a focus on natural solutions to fight as well as to adapt to climate change.
Obviously, every day as long as the invasion continues, Russia is violating the basic rights of Ukrainians.
Evil cannot remain unpunished.
Russia's crimes against Ukraine and every Ukrainian are outrageous.
V. Putin and the war in Ukraine have shattered peace in Europe and created the biggest security crisis in Europe since World War II.
NATO SAMIT has approved a new comprehensive aid package for Ukraine.
We all hope that members of the alliance, concerned people and wealthy businessmen will continue to provide financial aid and support for our country.
We, Ukrainians, continue to stand up for the principles and values that unite all people in democratic countries: the rule of law, the inviolability of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the state.
We all sincerely believe in the end of the war and in our victory, because we have truth, honor and dignity with us.