Since 2001, in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 56/4, November 6 is celebrated as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. On May 27, 2016, the UN Environment Assembly adopted resolution UNEP/EA.2/Res.15, recognizing the role of healthy ecosystems and sustainably managed resources in reducing the risk of armed conflict. The resolution reaffirmed the commitment of the countries of the world in this matter to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals listed in UN General Assembly Resolution 70/1.

The challenges of the militarization of Crimea by Russia are dangerous for various natural systems of the region, but the resources of the Black and Azov Seas, as unique semi-closed ecosystems separated from the World Ocean, are now suffering first and foremost. It should be noted that the corresponding Ukrainian Independent Maritime Trade Union’s Statement “Environmental and Humanitarian Challenges in the Maritime Spaces around Crimea” was sent on October 26 to specialized international bodies. Among other things, the Statement mentions the risks of sea pollution by radionuclides, rocket fuel, oil products from the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

As far as we know, a number of international structures, in particular the European Environmental Agency, have become interested in this appeal. As we can see on the website of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), this appeal has already been accepted for work regarding the threat to marine biosystems due to the destruction of the unique natural complex of the Kalamit and Karkinit bays by the invaders. The construction of military facilities in Crimea is carried out using the sand, mined in those waters from the seabed. Also the expansion of the military base on Donuzlav Lake by the occupation authorities affects these ecosystems negatively, which are the spawning grounds for the Black Sea fish of the entire region. We are confident that WWF will thoroughly study the challenges posed by the militarization of Northern Crimea for waterfowl and migratory birds, as well as the unique flora and fauna of the phylophoric (red algae) fields of the Black Sea.

These environmental challenges were discussed by experts of the Association of Reintegration of Crimea Boris Babin and Andrey Chvalyuk on October 29-30 at the international seminar of the Black Sea Blue Growth Initiative “Research and Innovation in the Black Sea: Empowering the Next Generation for a Healthy, Resilient and Productive Black Sea”. Within the framework of this seminar, the proposed mechanisms for responding to the risks associated with the militarization of Crimea were announced. In particular, they talked about the possible organization the international ecological expeditions to study the real situation in the Black and Azov Seas, using the freedom of navigation guaranteed by international law.