Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the president of Ukraine, met with representatives of ecology and environment-focused European civil society organizations on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of taking legal action against Russia for environmental crimes in Ukraine, according to a release from the president's office.
The environmental crimes in question were those caused as a result of the current war between Russia and Ukraine.
"The damage that has already been done to the Ukrainian ecosystem amounts to billions of dollars. This should become part of the reparations we will demand from Russia," said Andriy Yermak.
Yermak also pointed out that environmental protection is one of President Volodymyr Zelensky's ten points in his peace plan.
Ukraine's Environmental Protection Minister maintains his stance
Ukrainian Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Ruslan Strilets was also at the meeting. He gave a detailed breakdown of the damage caused by Russia to Ukraine's natural landscape and resources. According to the statement from the president's office, Strilets emphasized the importance of integrating the concept of ecosystem services - the benefits that citizens can receive from the ecosystem - into Ukrainian legislation.
Strilets has been making such statements since the Spring of 2022. In May, he said that Kyiv will seek compensation in international courts for environmental damage caused by Russia. "Over the past 20 years, this is the first military conflict in the world that has caused such large-scale environmental damage," he told a news conference.
Yermak called on global activists to focus more on the environmental damage caused by Russia in Ukraine. "Our goal is to ensure that Ukraine's voice in the context of environmental issues is strengthened both among our partners and among countries that are not yet sufficiently focused on this topic," he concluded.
Reuters contributed to this report.