Will Russia Be Held Accountable for Poisoning Ukraine’s Land?

Courtesy of UNDP Ukraine (Flickr CC0)

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, blasting chemical factories became a horrifying existence for its inhabitants. Rockets contaminate groundwater and soil; fires discharge radioactive particles, and battleships have extinguished the Black Sea dolphins.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has poisoned the country’s air, water, land, and climate with repercussions. An example would be the large cloud of pink smoke that spewed from a chemical factory and enveloped apartment buildings in Severodonetsk.

Though not as visible as the thousands of casualties, the environmental effects quietly harm people and wildlife decades after the war. Indeed, armed confrontation is the ultimate predictor of the significant gas emission source correlated to human health crises, including congenital disabilities and cancer.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources has documented approximately 1,200 environmental catastrophes since Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the invasion. Those cataclysms are not only sabotaging Ukraine’s measures to conserve its natural habitat; they’re initiating poisonous contaminants. The war also pumps new carbon into the air, aggravating the global environmental crisis.

An Environmental Crisis in Ukraine

Environmental groups in Ukraine are monitoring the damage to war crimes. Thus far, they have recorded 270 cases of probable harm from impacting the marine ecosystem to damage to power plants which begs the question: Will Russia be held responsible for these damages?

Courtesy of Rob Schleiffert (Flickr CC0)

Throughout the first month of the war, the Ukrainian environment ministry estimated the use of 79,169 explosive machines, 1,955 bombs, and approximately 567.4 kgs of explosives. Chemicals like nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and formaldehyde have penetrated the environment.

Ukraine is highly industrialized and covers about six percent of Europe’s land area with a dozen nuclear reactors and nearly 150 coal mines.

When the Ukrainian army shot down a Russian missile in April, debris fell on an agricultural site, and toxic chemicals leaked into the water and soil. There were reports of dead fishes in the river several miles away. People are prohibited from drinking water from wells.

Will Ukraine atone for environmental crimes?

While international laws control war, including the Geneva Conventions, lasting environmental damage is considered a war crime. The environmental toll is staggering damaging crops and increasing respiratory illnesses. Some experts are confident that one way or the other, the global community will hold Russia accountable for violating the laws of war.

As the invasion continues, the environmental hazards and as damaging as it is multifaceted. The chemicals released in warfare are absorbed in the soil, contaminate surfaces, and are dangerous to humans and animals.

Until March 31, the Russian troops occupied Chornobyl and disturbing grounds, contaminating the ecosystem by spiking radioactive dust and setting fire to grass and bushes.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Vox: The pollution from Russia’s war will poison Ukraine for decades; by Benji Jones
AllSides: The pollution from Russia’s war will poison Ukraine for decades
RollingStones: Russia’s Invasion Will Keep Killing Ukrainians for Decades After the War Ends; by Anna Conkling

Featured and Top Image by Oleksandr Ratushniak Courtesy of UNDP Ukraine’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Rob Schleiffert’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Will Russia Be Held Accountable for Poisoning Ukraine’s Land? added by Janet Grace Ortigas on June 17, 2022
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