A year has passed since we began living in the midst of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Over that time, our work group has published over 60 articles about the war’s environmental consequences. We have covered issues both indirectly and directly impacted by the invasion. Unfortunately, the war is not over; it continues, as does our work. On the invasion’s anniversary, our team took stock, shared their words and worries, and witnessed the difficult events of the last year.
18 March 2023 is a day that is not foremost in the global community’s mind. It was on this day that Russia’s annexation (occupation) of Crimea was completed in 2014. Over the years of the peninsula’s occupation, along with its rich and diverse ecosystems and vitally important biodiversity, the whole region has essentially been turned into a military base. It has been used as a bridgehead for the invasion since 24 February 2022. Our expert Oleksii Vasyliuk discusses how the annexation has impacted Crimea’s natural protected areas.
As we have reported regularly, the invasion has not only impacted protected areas and environmental initiatives in Ukraine, but also significantly worsened the situation in Russia itself. Russia’s branch of World Wide Fund for Nature was declared a “foreign agent”. UWEC expert Eugene Simonov reflects on the implications of this event and why the policy of creating foreign agents is very dangerous for Russia and the entire world.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a series of crises. One of the most significant is in the energy sector. On the one hand, the war has a notable effect on the energy sector’s use of coal. On the other, Europe stands by its ambitious plans to transition to renewable energy sources. Journalist Anna Volynets provides a brief overview of the year’s energy-related outcomes and how they connect to climate and environment policies.
The energy crisis also directly impacts the environment. It was expected that sanctions on Russia’s coal industry would decrease extraction and improve environmental situation in regions including the Kuzbass. This did not happen – the situation in Kuzbass did not improve although coal extraction faced additional challenges, and grassroots environmental activists faced even greater pressures. Activist and expert Anton Lementuev examines life in Russia’s largest coal region since February 2022.
Alexei Ovchinnikov, Editor
UWEC Work Group