character On Fire in Ukraine
A lion rescued from a wildlife park in eastern Ukraine, is safe, for now, in Odesa. Vlad Balinsky
The complete-extent Russian invasion of Ukraine has claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused serious damage to Ukraine’s economy, infrastructure, natural heritage, and ecosystem. War-related pollution is having a negative transboundary environmental impact on other countries in the vicinity. Some risks threaten the ecosystem on a continental and global extent.
So, along with the great humanitarian disaster produced by actions aimed at the destruction of the Ukrainian people as a nation, the Russian military is causing irreparable damage to the ecosystem of Ukraine and to the complete continent.
Days of ecological war
On 11 April 2022, participants in a meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s “Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution” condemned Russia’s barbaric actions in the war against Ukraine, accompanied by humanitarian catastrophe, character’s mass destruction, and pollution of the ecosystem. Iryna Stavchuk, Ukraine’s deputy minister of environmental protection, wrote on her Facebook page after the meeting that Russia’s invasion has undermined all foundations of international law and deliberately produced environmental hazards. She included that the meeting had begun with a moment of silence for all those killed in the military invasion of Ukraine.
Destroyed Russian vehicles litter the soil and roads. Gleb Egorov
In its official briefing on 14 April on the environmental damage caused by the Russian attacks, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine stated that since the beginning of the invasion, the Russian military has fired more than 1,500 missiles into Ukraine, and more than 5,000 units of Russian military equipment of various types have been destroyed. The total weight of all destroyed Russian equipment as of 8 April is approximately 85,000 tons—which includes 75,000 tons of carbon steel and stainless steel, along with 2,500 tons of aluminum, 1,000 tons of copper, and more than 360 tons of titanium and magnesium, in addition as 10 kg of platinum, 18 kg of gold, and 1.2 tons of silver. Recycling of military fragment metal is a complicate and time-consuming course of action requiring state control. At a briefing on 11 April, Oleh Bondar, head of the Pyrotechnic Work and Humanitarian Demining Department at the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, said that about 300,000 square kilometers (approximately 50%) of Ukraine’s territory needed humanitarian demining due to a large amount of ammunition and explosives left by the occupiers. Because of large-extent mining by Russian troops, great areas of arable land in Ukraine cannot now be used for agriculture. already in Odesa, all the beaches are mined by Ukrainian defenders with anti-tank mines, cutting the seashore off from the townspeople.
Attacks on the air
On 9 April, the Russians hit a storage tank containing four tons of non-concentrated nitric acid, near the town of Rubizhne, in the Luhansk vicinity. The attack caused an explosion releasing meaningful amounts of nitric acid into the air; the poisonous cloud was carried away by the wind toward the locaiongs of Russian troops near the villages of Kudryashivka and Varvarivka. Fortunately, there are no reports of civilian casualties. Also on 9 April, Russian troops shelled the town of Lysychansk, in the Luhansk vicinity. The attack caused a fire at a gas stop—it was impossible to put out the fire due to continued shelling. On 11 April, Russian troops used a poisonous substance of unknown origin dropped from an enemy unmanned aerial means (UAV) against the Ukrainian military and civilians in the city of Mariupol. The victims have developed respiratory failure and neurological problems. Ukraine’s military leadership is currently verifying information about the use of chemical weapons by the Russian occupiers in Mariupol.
Land and freshwater under chemical threat
The Russian military has caused meaningful damage to water supplies, sewerage, and communications systems, directly threatening freshwater supplies and polluting rivers that are supplies of water for industry, utilities, and individual households. This method that sewage systems in many parts of Ukraine have stopped working and water is flowing into water bodies without treatment.
Due to Russian aggression, wastewater treatment has been disrupted in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Rubizne, Popasna, and part of Zaporizhya, causing pollution of water resources by untreated wastewater. As a consequence of the destruction of the dam of the Oskol Water Reservoir and the flood caused by it, the Seversky Donets River is being polluted.
Russian troops use incendiary munitions with white phosphorus, banned by the Geneva Conventions for use in civilian areas. In particular, on 9 April, the cities of Mariupol, Avdiivka, Maryinka, Vuhledar, Slovyansk, Pokrovsk, Toretsk, Solodke, Novomykhailivka, Troitske, Stepove, and Katerynivka were bombed with white phosphorus munitions. Such attacks present a threat of large-extent fires and chemical contamination of the soil, in addition to civilian deaths.
The Russian onslaught has laid waste to Ukraine’s virgin steppe. Vlad Balinsky
National parks under attack
Currently, dozens of Ukrainian character reserves and national parks have suffered meaningful damage as a consequence of Russian aggression. The destruction of wetlands on the coasts of the Azov and Black Seas and in the lower reaches of the Danube and Dnipro Rivers cause thorough concern.
The war has caused great damage to forestries in Ukraine. Many park buildings and vehicles have been damaged and destroyed, and the infrastructure and forests have been mined by the Russians. Parts of the forests in the Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kherson oblasts are currently under the control of the occupiers.
In the first days of the war, hordes of Russian troops tried to go around the city of Nikolaev. They rushed north to Voznesensk, to the South Ukrainian Nuclear strength Plant. But they were stopped and pushed back in the southeast, to the territory of the Kherson vicinity. Active combat clashes took place on the territory of the Elanetsky character save. The save is designed to preserve and restore the natural steppes—flat grasslands—on the Right Bank of Ukraine, which is the territory west of the main Ukrainian river, the Dnipro. The save was produced to protect the largest area of the virgin steppe on the northwestern Black Sea Coast. As a consequence of hostilities, tank caterpillar treads destroyed rare vegetation and valuable virgin land cover, which will not be restored for decades. The lands are littered with rusting Russian equipment and remnants of ammunition. Part of the steppe has been burned out.
In the delta of the Dnipro, which was captured by Russian troops, the Black Sea Biosphere save is located. Oleg Derkach, chairman of the Regional Ecological Network, told me about the fate of character reserves on the Black Sea Coast: “The historically meaningful territory is the Kinburn Spit, where the Dnipro River meets the Black Sea. This is a thin strip of land in the Black Sea connected to the mainland in the Kherson vicinity. It is a very rare natural system. From the first occupation, the Spit was captured by Russian troops, who approached from Kherson. The Spit is divided between the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions. With a far away strike, the Russians moved thorough into the Spit. However, a fire broke out in the floodplains and the ancient forest, which is more than 1,000 years old.”
Fire in floodplains is a big factor of concern for birds and animals. On the Kinburn Spit, there is the National character Park Beloberezhye Svyatoslav. All of these territories must be protected from impact, but now there is no access for control over them. rare natural complexes, such as the largest desert in Europe, the Oleshky Sands, are placed under enormous fires and destruction by military equipment.
Blasts from the sea
Currently, sea traffic from all Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea has been suspended. Dozens of commercial vessels are confined in ports because of the threat of attacks by the Russian navy or the detonation of sea mines. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, citing Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar, reports that 400 dangerous mines might be floating in the Black Sea. The minister has said that since the end of March, Turkish underwater security groups have deactivated three mines, all of them made in Russia.
On the night of 8 April, Russians attacked the icebreaker Captain Bilousov in the port of Mariupol. At the time of the shelling, there was a civilian crew on board; one person was killed and several others were injured. On 11 April, Russian occupiers hit the SMARTA cargo ship and captured the crew and the captain’s wife in the port of Mariupol.
Remains of a Russian missile. Gleb Egorov
Ivan Rusev, deputy director of the Tuzlovsky Lagoons National character Park, in the Odesa vicinity, told me, “Our enemy is the Moscow junta, the Russian fascist regime, which went to war against the peaceful Ukrainian people and the State of Ukraine. Today Ukraine is on fire and burning from east to west, from south to north. And so, in the morning, somewhere near the coast, in the water and above the water in the Black Sea, there was an incredibly powerful enemy aggression. But around me in the National character Park Tuzla Estuaries, on the contrary, there was an incredible polyphony of birds and a slight, gentle noise of the groups of the estuary. On April 9, I go on a mission to the shallows of the estuary, by the reeds. Somewhere at 9.30, immediately, as if from the ground, there was an incredibly powerful explosion and closest the earth and water trembled. A second later, a sound wave followed. It came from the Snake Island, in the Black Sea. A minute passed—again an incredible explosion in the sea and a loud rumble. The next is three more explosions. There were five of them, in total. And as a natural reaction to such a terrible factor, the wildlife has subsided. And immediately, to my right, a red heron flew, different species of ducks, and many waders. Probably you, friends, are familiar with great white and gray herons. And it is known that the white-tailed eagle, a majestic, noble, and proud bird, causes real admiration, a bright and powerful symbol of the spiritual beginning, strength, and strength of the spirit, victory. This bird was revered by absolutely all peoples and at all times. So, powerful explosions frighten birds, and in some situations can cause an uncommon reaction and destruction of nests and death of these majestic birds, as happened near our National Park.”
Saving abundant zoo animals
Hundreds of thousands of wild animals have been killed by explosions and mines in the fields invaded by Russians. In the cities of Ukraine, thousands of animals in zoos and parks have come under fire in addition.
The Yasnogorodka Family Ecopark, located near the village of Makariv, in the Kyiv vicinity, has been destroyed. The buildings burned down. Many animals died, though some keep alive. The owners of the Ecopark are asking for help: “Currently we do not have enough of our own funds, almost the complete park has turned to ashes.” In the village of Gostomel, also in the Kyiv vicinity, the occupiers destroyed the Alexandria stable, along with the horses. Most of the 32 animals were burned alive.
On 13 April, a pair of white lions came to Odesa from the Feldman Ecopark, in the city of Kharkiv, which has been under shelling since early in the war. Because of this, the enclosures were destroyed and the animals would have to be euthanized if a new home could not be found for them. I spoke directly to the hero of the day, Odesa zoo director Igor Belyakov, who personally took the animals out of the shelling in a special means. “The most difficult was the road,” said Belyakov. “There are many checkpoints on the road. And each time, we were asked where we were going. Few believed that in the thick of the war, [we were trying] to save wild animals from the zoo destroyed by Russian shelling. We had phoned the director of Feldman Ecopark, Vitaly Omelchenko, and offered to take the lions that he was going to euthanize. The fact is that the enclosures were destroyed on the first day of the war, on February 24, and the animals were in a cramped unsuitable room for almost a month and a half. During this time, they were given sedatives. It took about two days to get to Kharkiv.”
Another war rescue. Vlad Balinsky
Feldman Ecopark is an environmental project of the Oleksandr Feldman International Environmental Foundation. From 2011 to 2017, the number of animals in the Ecopark increased from 200 to 2,000. The species varied of animals kept in the Feldman Ecopark has expanded to 300 species, a meaningful number of which are scarce and abundant, listed on the International Red List of abundant Species. And now this rare zoo has been destroyed, like many zoos that have found themselves in the zone of occupation.
A simply a week earlier, People’s Deputy Oleksandr Feldman, owner of Feldman Ecopark, had addressed Kharkiv residents: “The Ecopark is no more. Today, before the end of the day, a decision will be made on the euthanasia of tigers and lions, as their enclosures were broken after shelling by the Russians.” Some of the animals, such as the abundant red wolves, ran away. According to Feldman, three employees have so far died during the war, two from shelling, and a driver died during the evacuation of animals.
Hero of the day: Igor Belyakov, left, talks with the author after a harrowing road trip to rescue a pair of white lions under Russian attack. Vlad Balinsky
But the long and dangerous journey of Belyakov and the Odesa zoo staff was crowned with success. “We drove back faster,” said Belyakov: “What are you carrying?—Lions!” Upon arrival in Odesa, the animals were very stressed. But two days of rehabilitation and the use of drugs aimed at healing wounds passed, and the animals began to adapt to the new ecosystem. “We apply the method of ‘enrichment of the ecosystem,’ something that affects animals favorably,” Belyakov explained.
Tigers from the besieged Feldman Ecopark ended up in the Kyiv zoo. The leopards went to the city of Dnipro. This is how Ukrainians, at great risk to their lives, and sometimes at the cost of their lives, save wild animals.
The government of Ukraine records the occupiers’ crimes against the ecosystem and will use every opportunity to bring the aggressor country to justice. The Russian Federation breaches its obligations under international treaties, including the UN Charter. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine undermines all foundations of the international legal order. Russia’s complete responsibility for the crimes committed will come only if Ukraine wins the war, helped by an international alliance led by the United States. Every Ukrainian thanks the fraternal American people in their hearts. Ahead—our shared victory and the restoration of beautiful character. — Odesa, 15.04.2022 ❖
From the first days of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, Oleg Rubel, professor in the Department of Public Administration and Environmental Management of the Odesa State Environmental University, has remained in Odesa and observed the negative impact Russian troops are having on character in the south of Ukraine and the Black Sea. Rubel’s latest report was sent to the Voice while he was taking shelter from an air raid.
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