Summary: 1. Introduction. – 2. Overview of the Sources. – 3. The Environmental Impacts of the Russian Invasion. – 3.1. Impacts on Energy and Infrastructure. – 3.2. Impacts on Natural and Protected Areas. – 3.3. Economic Impacts and Opportunity Costs. – 3.4. Nuclear Risks. – 3.5. Impacts on Water. – 4. The Environmental Damages and the Legal Responsibility from an International Perspective. – 4.1 International Environmental Law. – 4.2. International Warfare Laws. – 5. Conclusions.
Background: There is no war without catastrophic impacts, not only on humans and states but also on the environment and nature. As with all wars, the question is raised as to whether an invasion or aggression is legitimate according to international law. This research aims to discuss an emerging issue at the international level, which is the responsibility of the aggressor state for the environmental damages incurred by the victim state. This paper discusses the possibility of establishing Russia’s responsibility for the environmental damages incurred in Ukraine. It will also shed light on the possible ways Ukraine may raise Russia’s responsibility, internationally speaking. The novelty of this study stems from its originality – it is the first on this topic in the field of international relations and international law.
Methods: In this research, the author used a case study to provide an in-depth perspective on the responsibility of the invading state for the environmental damages caused to the victim state. Here, the author used a historical and statistical framework to shed light on the impacts of the Russian aggression against Ukraine on the environment. Moreover, analytical and structural methods were deployed to explain the methods by which Ukraine and the international community might establish Russian responsibility for the environmental damages caused by the invasion. To support the ideas discussed in this paper, the author uses legal texts, international conventions, and official reports issued from national and international institutions.
Results and Conclusions: The author found that the Russian aggression against the Ukrainian territory has caused severe environmental damages, which cannot go unpunished. Although traditional international law may be insufficient to punish Russia, customary law, warfare law, and international environmental law include rules that may be used to raise the Russian responsibility for these damages.