A man near a fire following a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine (Image: AAP/AP/Felipe Dana)
A man near a fire following a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine (Image: AAP/AP/Felipe Dana)

Each month, the scope and scale of Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine expand almost exponentially. There are now millions of refugees, tens of thousands of deaths, and a devastated Ukrainian economy that the World Bank estimates will contract by 45% by the end of the year. Russia’s Dresden-level infrastructure destruction has created a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, with widespread poverty, misery -- and grave long-term human health consequences.

Beneath the human and socioeconomic catastrophe is an evolving array of environmental disasters that will afflict Ukraine’s ecosystems for generations to come.

Environmental damage falls under two broad categories, both of which are relevant in Ukraine: the direct adverse impacts on ecosystems and ecological bioreserves, and the associated human health effects on populations dependent on the services of the environment for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.