During a working trip to Dnipropetrovsk region, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a video call with representatives of the global community of political and public figures, opinion leaders and environmental experts.
The meeting was joined by more than 60 world political and public figures, including Vice-President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, environmental activist Greta Thunberg, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden Margot Wallström, President of Ireland in 1990-1997 Mary Robinson, Head of the Ukraine Department of the European External Action Service Petra Gombalova, Secretary General of the European Environment Bureau Patrick Ten Brink, Regional CEO for Central and Eastern Europe of the World Wildlife Fund Andreas Beckmann, former French Ambassador for Climate Change and CEO of the European Climate Foundation Laurence Tubiana, Ambassador of the European Climate Pact (Nigeria) Aniebiet Inyang Ntui, as well as environmental activists and journalists covering environmental issues.
In his speech, the President of Ukraine emphasized that the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant disaster is not a natural disaster or a manifestation of the climate crisis, but a disaster ordered by Putin personally.
“This Russian crime of ecocide is the largest in Europe in decades, but apparently, the Russian occupiers have decided to further aggravate its consequences. In the occupied part of the territory, where about a dozen settlements are flooded, no evacuation is carried out at all. People have been staying on rooftops, trapped in water for two days, without drinking water, without food or medical care. We do not know the number of dead and injured yet,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted.
The Head of State also drew attention to the fact that due to the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam, fuel storage facilities, warehouses with chemicals and fertilizers, animal burial grounds, including two "anthrax burials" on the temporarily occupied territory, were flooded; sewage got into the water.
“More than fifty thousand hectares of forests have been flooded, and at least half of them will die. Tens of thousands of birds and at least twenty thousand wild animals are at risk of death. Obviously, the Kakhovka reservoir has been turned into a large grave for millions of living beings,” the President said.
He called on the international community to facilitate in drawing the attention of international organizations to help people who remained in the temporarily occupied territory affected by the flooding.
In addition, Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the creation of a high-level international working group that will consolidate worldwide efforts to bring Russia to justice for the ecocide in Ukraine.
“So that our country is not left alone with this tragedy - the ecocide. I am sure that with sufficient leadership in the world, the appropriate tools can be created,” the Head of State emphasized.
The President also stressed the importance of providing assistance to Ukraine in eliminating the consequences of the Kakhovka HPP disaster.
“We need to make sure that there is not a single desert or ruin or dead zone left after this disaster. And this can only be ensured by joint efforts, together with the global environmental protection community, together with policy makers, together with leaders and states, together with international organizations,” he said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for spreading the truth about the Russian ecocide and encouraging leaders, states and international organizations to take action.
“Please, let's work together to make sure that there are no more ecocides. Join our community, which I mentioned, our platform, our specialists. We are in constant touch,” the Head of State noted.
Margot Wallström, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, noted that one of the ten points of the Peace Formula proposed by the President of Ukraine is the fight against ecocide and urgent measures to protect nature.
"We need a joint response to these threats to our environment. We need mechanisms to punish these crimes against humanity and against nature. And, of course, we need support - with funds, knowledge, experience, technology," she said.
Margot Wallström expressed her belief that all environmental activists stand in solidarity with Ukraine and are ready to help our country in every way possible with concrete actions.
Vice-President of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, for her part, noted that the EP should help bring those responsible for the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam to justice, which, in her opinion, is the most serious environmental crime of this war.
"It's not just the tragic loss of civilian lives, it's the long-term environmental consequences, it's a war crime, and I think the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is already collecting evidence without any delay. Russian aggression also falls under the definition of ecocide, and the European Parliament has already called for the recognition of ecocide and the condemnation of this crime under international law," she said.
Heidi Hautala assured that the European Parliament will continue to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom for as long as it takes.
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former head of the International Institute for Environment and Development, expressed her conviction that it is necessary to act decisively to bring to justice all those responsible for war crimes, including the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant disaster.
"We support an independent tribunal for the crime of aggression, we stand in full solidarity with you and the Ukrainian people," she said.
Former French Ambassador for Climate Change and CEO of the European Climate Foundation Laurence Tubiana emphasized that Ukrainians are currently experiencing ecocide in the broadest sense of the word. In her opinion, the environmental community should respond to Volodymyr Zelenskyy's call to put pressure on international organizations to gain access to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
"It is necessary to support communities by rebuilding your country. To support you in these efforts by helping scientists, researchers to assess what has happened to water resources, food resources, and biodiversity. This is a human tragedy, but it is also a disaster for agriculture, water management, and the energy sector," Laurence Tubiana emphasized.
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg expressed her condolences to all Ukrainians over the events that have been taking place for more than a year, as well as the environmental disaster caused by the blasting of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. She expressed readiness to put pressure on the relevant organizations and looks forward to receiving recommendations on how exactly she can help.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a meeting at the President's Office to discuss the proposals of environmental activists and present a detailed action plan.
"Of course, I would like to invite you to Ukraine to make the meeting very practical and professional. We need an action plan to restore the reservoir, rebuild the dam and overcome the consequences of this disaster," the Head of State said.
The President also invited representatives of the environmental community to join the issue of overcoming the shortage of water - both drinking and technical - in the regions of Ukraine affected by the disaster. He noted that the lack of water could result in a shortage of agricultural products, which would affect the countries of the Global South and some European countries.