In this issue, we draw your attention to the impact of the war on water – rivers, seas, lakes, small and large reservoirs and streams. Unlike soil, forest, or steppe, water knows no boundaries. It is always mobile, and therefore water pollution caused by the military invasion of Ukraine spreads throughout the region. We have repeatedly noted that the war’s direct environmental consequences relate to water bodies and not only in Ukraine. Pollution is documented to be occurring in the Black Sea, while research has yet to be carried out in, say, the Danube River delta. Mediated (indirect) consequences are noted all over the world, even countries as far away from the conflict zone as Mongolia, about which you can learn more on our website.
War transforms landscapes. This is well-established, and UWEC Work Group has previously examined the consequences of the draining of the Oskll reservoir. In this issue, UWEC’s editorial team has collected a variety of opinions on possible solutions for Irpin River management. Readers will recall that at the beginning of the invasion a dam was blown up in Kyiv suburbs, resulting in flooding of the river and nearby villages. The dam was destroyed in order to stop the advance of enemy troops. Today’s active disputes about the flooded Irpin River will contribute to tomorrow’s development of balanced decisions about the area’s future.
The war’s impacts on rivers are difficult to capture and analyze until the conflict has ended. That said, we can draw some preliminary conclusions today. We spoke with UWEC Work Group’s experts coordinator, co-founder of the Green Silk Road Network, and rivers expert Eugene Simonov about the direct and indirect consequences of the war for rivers. We discuss how it affects water bodies, how we can collect data today, and what indirect effects are being recorded that are infrequently discussed.
Indirect consequences, some of which we have already examined more than once, include the weakening of environmental practices in the most vulnerable areas, at points of “environmental stress.” Under the pretext of war, a predatory and consumerist attitude towards those natural areas environmental activists wish to protect is again developing. Read our article about the problems facing Lake Baikal, protection of which is now complicated due to the war unleashed by Russia.
All rivers flow into the seas. This means that all toxic and harmful substances sooner or later end up in the sea. In a war in Ukraine, all waters flow to the Black Sea. Today, that sea suffers both from hostilities taking place directly on its territory and from industrial pollution. Read Ukrainian expert Sofia Sadogurska’s analysis of the war’s effects on the Black and Azov Seas.
- War and the Sea: How hostilities threaten the coastal and marine ecosystems of the Black and Azov Seas
Since the beginning of the war, the world has been shocked by the news of thousands of dolphins that are washed ashore and die in the Black Sea coastline. Experts understandably point to chemical and acoustic pollution as the war’s main impacts. Ukrainian experts share essential information about cetacean mortality in the Black Sea. It is not accurate to talk about the death of “thousands of animals,” but it is obvious that many factors caused by military operations can lead to catastrophic consequences for fauna in the Black Sea.
Last but not least, we started a collaboration with the Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS). Special for UWEC Work Group, leader of our expert department Oleksij Vasyliuk, together with CEOBS expert Eoghan Darbyshire, prepared an article exploring pollution of the Bug estuary as a result of damage to primary water treatment facilities in the city of Mykolaiv.
We welcome information sharing about the war’s environmental consequences. Only reliable analyses can empower us to find and develop solutions to overcome this crisis.
Peace and strength to you,
Editor in Chief
UWEC Work Group