Staunton, July 6 – Because nature is no observer of political borders, the scorched earth policies Russian forces have adopted in Ukraine as well as the enormous noise their operations involve have had serious negative consequences on the flora and fauna not only of Ukraine but increasingly in the border regions of the Russian Federation.
Wild animals, for example, are fleeing into cities in Ukraine to escape both the noise of combat and the fires Russian troops have set to destroy the landscape Ukrainian forces have relied on, and ever more are crossing into Russia as well, bringing the war home in a new way (semnasem.org/articles/2022/07/08/kogda-govoryat-chto-vojna-ostavlyaet-vyzhzhennuyu-zemlyu-ne-obyazatelno-predstavlyat-pozharishe-kak-specoperaciya-v-ukraine-skazhetsya-na-ekologii-i-zhivotnom-mire-rossii).
Fires and noise from the fighting has affected some 2.9 million hectares in Ukraine, and animals from that enormous region are fleeing into surrounding portions of Ukraine and into Russia, with foxes and other animals often travelling a thousand kilometers or more to escape the battles, ecologists say.
Sometimes they bring disease and sometimes because their natural environments have been destroyed, they even attack people, spreading rabies and other diseases. Their departure means that animals people were used to seeing have disappeared. In many parts of Ukraine, it is unfortunately the case that no birds are heard.
In May, activists and environmentalists in Ukraine set up the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Working Group (UWEC) to address these issues. The group has had some success in Ukraine but believes that many of the developments arising from the war are tragically now irreversible (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2022/06/10/mertvyi-poias-zemli).
There has yet to be an analogous Russian organization, perhaps because Moscow does not want to call attention to this additional way in which its war in Ukraine is affecting Russia; but the longer the war continues, the harder it will be for the Russian powers that be to deny and fail to react to what ordinary Russians are seeing with their own eyes.
Environmentalists are also worried about the spread of poisonous chemicals released during battles via air and water. They are less obvious so far but may prove even more deadly not only to the natural flora and fauna of both countries but to the human communities in Ukraine and Russia.