Russia guilty of ecocide in their illegal invasion of Ukraine

Destroyed landscape of Ukraine
Destroyed landscape of Ukraine. Photo:  Anatoliy Stepanov.

A lot has been written about Russia’s murder of more than ten thousand innocent civilians (and 17,000 injured) as a consequence of their illegal invasion of Ukraine when shelling and bombing apartment blocks for instance or through individual executions. And their forced deportation of children has ended up in the International Criminal Court (The Hague) as a potential war crime. The crimes are never ending and must include crimes against animals with the mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals both domestic and wild.

There was (still is) a national park near the Donetsk industrial region in the east of Ukraine which was described as the lungs of that region. It was idyllic and a healthy retreat for Ukraine’s miners and families with children on holiday enjoying holiday camps.

Ukrainian forces have pushed Putin’s forces out of the region, from the nearby town of Sviatohirsk and this idyllic park is now an apocalyptic landscape with about 20 mi² of its forests destroyed by Russian incendiary grad rockets and aerial bombs according to Ukraine’s environmental protection ministry.

This is just one example of Russia’s ecocide in Ukraine. Another example is the now documented extensive pollution of the Black Sea by Russian naval activity due to the war in Ukraine resulting in dead dolphins and porpoises being washed up on the shores.

One man, Ivan Rusev knows the area well as he walks along the shoreline of the Black Sea in south-western Ukraine regularly. All he used to. He is the head of research at Tuzly National Nature Park. Normally, he might find 3-4 dead dolphins along the 27 miles of shoreline in this park. The shoreline was closed by the military once the war started and between February 24, 2022 and the end of August 2022 his colleagues and him found 35 dead cetaceans along the 3 miles of shoreline that was still accessible.

They’ve done a body count with the help of colleagues and decided that 2,500 dead dolphins have been washed up on the shoreline by May 2022. Although the numbers could be much higher because most dead dolphins sink to the bottom and aren’t counted.

One possibility is the sonar of Russian warships which destroys their acoustic systems. They can’t navigate. The sonar causes acoustic trauma in cetaceans.

The Ukraine government has accused Russia of blatant ecocide which is the deliberate destruction of nature and of course the natural consequence of that is the destruction of the animals that rely on nature particularly forests to survive. Nobody is counting the number of wild animals killed in these forests.

I read about a year ago that 300,000 domestic animals had been killed as an estimate so my estimate would be that the number of wild animals killed would be a factor of at least five to ten times greater than that at 1.5-3 million but probably much more.

Prosecutors in Kyiv are collecting information about the destruction of nature because they want ecocide to be formally acknowledged as a crime and they are going to present that argument to the International Criminal Court in due course.

The director of the state-owned park at Holy Mountains said that hundreds of endangered pine trees on the ancient chalk slopes have almost all been destroyed by fires and explosions as a consequence of Rush’s barbaric invasion.

The pine trees have been destroyed and the oak trees are full of metal fragments which he believes will eventually destroy them after they become sick because insects infest the holes.

The forest wildlife of Ukraine includes boards, deer, foxes, moose and raccoons. They don’t know how badly they been affected and scientists are trying to figure out how badly the soil has been poisoned thanks to the dropping of phosphorus bombs together with the debris of military weaponry and burnt-out military hardware.

And it is shocking to note that Ukraine is the most heavily mined country in the world. The Times reports that 67,000 mi² of the country is mind. In UK terms this equates to an area greater than England and Wales combined. It is all contaminated by mines.

Sadly, fighting between Ukrainians and the invading Russians has taken place within 20 national parks and nature reserves with consequential ecological damage. The deliberate blowing up of the Kakhovka dam also caused massive environmental damage. But even before that it is estimated that the cost of environmental damage is more than £40 billion.

Rusev said: “This is ecocide, 100%”. He added that, “Russia’s destruction of our nature is akin to the destruction of Ukrainians”.

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Post Category: Environment > ecocide