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President of Ukraine: Russia’s Occupation of Ukrainian Territories Led to Emergence of Environmental Bombs in Europe

Donbass ecology

The occupation of Crimea and parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions by the Russian Federation has led to the emergence of two spots of environmental danger in the centre of Europe, posing a common threat to the world.

“In 1994, Ukraine received security guarantees that were not fulfilled, and the planet received two environmental bombs in the centre of Europe: the occupied Crimea and part of Donbas. The peninsula with its unique flora and fauna has become a naval base of the Russian Federation. A part of Donbas sees flooding of mines, soil degradation, lack of drinking water,” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said speaking at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in the UK.

This is a common threat to the whole world, Zelensky noted, emphasising that agreements are worthless if they remain just words for someone.

“In our time, disaster, no matter where it happens, affects everyone. This is proved by the Chornobyl tragedy, which affected dozens of world countries, not just Ukraine,” the President said.

According to him, if humanity stops fulfilling the agreements and does not take real steps to save the planet, it will drown in cataclysms. At the same time, the changes should concern the priorities of world politics and each state separately.

“We must measure not only financial, but first of all ecological growth. Not only the level of GDP or inflation, but above all the level of purity of air, water, land. We must perceive a territory not as a market for goods or services, but as a home for thousands of flora and fauna representatives. We must be proud not of new models of technology, not only of the fact that we create something, but also of the fact that we preserve something. Many words have been said. It’s time to implement them. Quickly, without delay,” the President of Ukraine summed up.

As a reminder, the Yunkom mine, where the Soviet authorities conducted a nuclear explosion in 1979, is located in the occupied territory of the Donetsk region. After that, a radioactive void appeared in the mine, from where water was constantly pumped out to prevent it from getting into groundwater. Almost three years ago, the occupation administration stopped pumping groundwater from the facility, so radiation penetrates into the groundwater horizon.

The issue of the environmental situation in Donbas is constantly raised at the meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group. This topic was also touched upon in the international arena, in particular at the briefing of UN member states. Ukraine’s main requirement is to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts access to dangerous facilities. However, the occupation administration strongly opposes such initiatives so far.

Bohdan Marusyak

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