Russia’s $35 billion environmental damage violates Geneva conventions: Ukraine
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Monday that Russia violated an article of the 1949 Geneva Conventions by causing around $35 billion in environmental damage to Ukraine amid its ongoing war.
“The damage caused to the ecology by Russia is estimated at 35.3 billion dollars. Millions of hectares of natural reserves are threatened. Article 55 of Protocol I [of the 1949 Geneva Conventions] forbidden to wage war against the natural environment in retaliation, but Russia doesn’t care,” he tweeted.
Article 55 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, entitled Protection of the natural environment, reads as follows: “Care shall be taken in time of war to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-lasting and serious damage.
“This protection includes the prohibition against the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or likely to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby be detrimental to the health or survival of the population.”
Additionally, attacks on the environment that are carried out in retaliation are also prohibited under Article 55, according to international humanitarian law databases.
The State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine reported in December that the Russian war had polluted more than 291 million square meters of land in Ukraine and defiled more than 8 billion square meters in the country, causing damage estimated at $12 billion in land resources, the Kyiv Independent reported.
In August, Ukraine’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources said in a Telegram post that it had documented more than 2,000 incidents of Russian forces destroying Ukrainian air, soil and water.
The ministry at the time estimated that the total damage caused to Ukrainian soil and water resources by the Russian invasion, which began on February 24 last year, amounted to more than $10 billion.
“Since the beginning of the large-scale invasion of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, we have recorded all the occupier’s crimes against the environment in order to make it [Russian President Vladimir Putin] pay in full for what he did to the Ukrainian people,” the ministry said at the time, according to an English translation.
Reznikov recently listed a number of Russian actions that violated international agreements and laws, including the recruitment of Ukrainians to fight against their country, which is prohibited under Article 51 of the Geneva Conventions.
“The Russians continue to forcibly recruit Ukrainians in the occupied territories to fight against their own country. I would like to remind that the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the occupiers from coercing protected persons to serve in their army”, declared the Ukrainian minister of the defense. said friday.
He also pointed out that Russia had violated the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which prohibits or restricts the use of weapons deemed “excessively harmful”.
“Traps in dead soldiers and mass graves, soft toys and children’s backpacks, in schools, hospitals and apartments… This is a partial list of Russia’s violations of Protocol ІІ to the Convention on certain conventional weapons in [Ukraine]”, he said thursday.
Newsweek contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry and the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine for comment.