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BRIEFING – Russia’s Ecocide in Ukraine: Environmental Destruction and the Need for Accountability

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

2:00 p.m.

Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2322

Stream live here

WASHINGTON—In the ten years since Russia launched its war of aggression against Ukraine, Ukraine estimates that Russia has inflicted some $60 billion in damages to Ukraine’s natural and man-made environments and pushed Ukraine to the brink of ecological collapse.  Vast swaths of Ukraine are contaminated with landmines, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals.  Hundreds of thousands of square miles of agricultural lands are decimated, groundwater contaminated, and nature reserves consumed by fire.

In June 2023, the catastrophic destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam alone killed or displaced hundreds of Ukrainians, limited the availability of water for irrigation and sanitation purposes, and increased the risk of a nuclear disaster at the nearby Zaporizhzhia power plant.  While the full scale of Russia’s destruction of Ukraine’s environment is both ongoing and difficult to assess, it is sufficiently vast that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General has initiated investigations not only into possible war crimes but also willful acts of environmental destruction, or “ecocide,” punishable under Ukrainian law.

It is clear that the havoc wrought by Russia’s actions will endure for decades and that Ukraine will require both international and intergenerational support to adequately address it.

This briefing will highlight the immense scope and scale of the environmental devastation Russia has wrought in Ukraine during its war of aggression, estimate the still-unfolding impacts on the people of Ukraine and its natural environment, and consider the multifaceted challenges to ensuring Russian accountability.

Panelists will include:

  1. Eugene Z. StakhivRetired Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University
  2. Maryna BaydyukPresident and Executive Director, United Help Ukraine
  3. Kristina Hook Assistant Professor of Conflict Management, School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development, Kennesaw State University

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