Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that the environmental harm from Russia’s war will affect millions of people for years and urged New Zealand to take leadership in diplomacy to address the damage, Reuters reports.
Speaking to the New Zealand parliament – just the second foreign leader to do so – Zelenskyy said by video link from Ukraine that Russian attacks have contaminated the country’s oceans and 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) of forest.
“Dozens of rivers are polluted, hundreds of coal mines are flooded, dozens of the most dangerous enterprises, including chemical ones have been destroyed by Russian strikes,” he said, according to translation provided by the parliament. “All this … will have a direct impact on millions of people,” he said, referring to leaks of hazardous chemicals and contamination from mines and munitions.
“You cannot rebuild the destroyed nature, just as you cannot restore the destroyed lives,” Zelenskyy added.