On the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydropower plant by Russian troops

Statement by Yuri Shcherbak, former Minister of Environment of Ukraine, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, author, Chairman of the Board of the Ukrainian-Polish Independent Media Forum, member of the Presidium of the Ukrainian Peace

I appeal to the world public opinion as well as international environmental and nature conservation organizations.

On June 6, 2023, the Russian occupiers committed a crime of global proportions in Ukraine: they blew up the dam and the building of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant that resulted in the release of huge amounts of water from the Kakhovka reservoir and flooding of large areas adjacent to the Dnipro riverbed.

It is obvious to every objective expert that the criminals who dared to do this have caused an anthropogenic social and environmental disaster comparable to the use of weapons of mass destruction. There are already first casualties among people, wild and domestic animals, and the numbers will only grow.

The release of water from the Kakhovka reservoir (total volume of 18.2 cubic kilometers) will cause:

• dehydration and decline of irrigation systems: 94 per cent of those located in Kherson, 74% in Zaporizhzhia, and 30% in Dnipropetrovsk regions;
• shortage of drinking water for millions of Ukrainian citizens;
• desertification of the dried-up bottom of the Kakhovka Reservoir;
• the risk of spreading intestinal infections (cholera, dysentery, etc.);
• degradation of flora and fauna ecosystems in the disaster-stricken area;
• toxic effects of spreading silt containing heavy metal salts and harmful chemicals;
• the lack of water to cool the reactors of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the most powerful NPP in Europe, poses a particular threat.

We are facing the specter of an environmental apocalypse planned by international criminal Putin whose goal is to destroy Ukraine and Ukrainians by organizing a food catastrophe, sharply reducing the yields of grain and other crops on the fertile lands of southern Ukraine. This will lead to a global food supply crisis, particularly in Africa and Asia.

As a founder and active participant of the Ukrainian Green Movement in 1987–1991, and the author of the world-famous documentary novel Chornobyl I call on my fellow environmentalists in Ukraine and other countries, activists of Green Peace, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Green Cross, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other organizations to raise their voices in protest against the crimes of the Russian aggressors who are violating all international conventions aimed at protecting civilians and the environment during war.

Our silence will only encourage war criminals to commit new atrocities.

Let us unite in the fight against Russian aggression, for the preservation of human life and the environment, for a just peace on Earth!

June 7, 2023

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