EU Statement on “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine - Environmental, humanitarian and economic consequences of the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam for the OSCE region”

Special Economic and Environmental Committee Meeting, Vienna, 19 June 2023.

1.Mr. Chair, the European Union and its Member States would like to thank you fororganising today’s special meeting. We would also like to express our sincereappreciation to Mr. Yevhenii Fedorenko, Deputy Minister for EuropeanIntegration, Mr. Markiyan Dmytrasevych, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy andFood, Mr. Farid Safarov, Deputy Minister of Energy of Ukraine and the rest of thespeakers for their remarks. The destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric PowerPlant (HPP) dam in the Kherson region of Ukraine serves as a stark reminder ofthe multifaceted, devastating consequences of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustifiedand illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, for which Russia bears fullresponsibility. We condemn this egregious act in the strongest possible terms andwe remain firmly committed to holding all those responsible to account. We recallthat intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, including critical civilianinfrastructure, may amount to a war crime. We express our heartfelt support tothe Ukrainian people.

2.This reckless act has already resulted in the displacement of numerous civilians,placing their lives and livelihoods at risk and potentially leading to anotherhumanitarian crisis. The resulting damage could have significantly adverseimpacts with potentially severe consequences for the Ukrainian economy, humanhealth, animal welfare, biodiversity, and the environment. We are also deeply concerned about the far-reaching consequences it may have on energy security, nuclear safety, and global food security, extending beyond the borders of Ukraine. The potential hazards and implications of this incident are alarming and require immediate attention and concerted efforts to address them effectively.

3. According to the International Organisation for Migration, thousands of homes have been flooded, leading to the evacuation of over 2,700 civilians from the right bank of the Dnipro River. Furthermore, more than 700,000 people are expected to face water shortages. We recall that access to water is a fundamental human right.

4. The flooding of land and farms poses a serious threat to agricultural outputs, further endangering the livelihoods for the local population and placing additional strain on an already challenged global food supply chain. The impact of such flooding can disrupt agricultural productivity, leading to potential shortages of essential food items and exacerbating food insecurity. According to UN OCHA, sustained flooding will disrupt farming activities, damage livestock and fisheries and bring widespread longer-term consequences, representing “a massive blow” to an already significantly impaired food production sector.

5. Due to Russia’s ongoing war of aggression, the situation is compounded by the fact that a significant portion of Ukraine's territory is contaminated with landmines and explosive ordnance. The fast-moving water caused by the flooding poses additional and unpredictable dangers, as it can displace projectiles and shift them into areas previously assessed as safe.

6. In addition, the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, which held 18 cubic kilometres of water, has also resulted in dropping water levels affecting access to critical cooling water for the reactors of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, putting its nuclear security and safety systems at risk. We reiterate our support to the IAEA Director General’s efforts to preserve the integrity of the site, in full respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

7. From the outset, the EU has mobilised its strategic reserves from the rescEU shelter capacities by deploying three mobile water treatment stations to assist the local authorities in producing potable water. So far, several EU Member States have offered assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, delivering water tankers, water pumps, boats, rescue equipment, generators, and other in-kind assistance to the affected areas in Ukraine. In order to further support humanitarian operations on the ground, the EU has also mobilised an additional €500,000 to address immediate needs. This is in addition to the €200 million in humanitarian aid already allocated for Ukraine in 2023 under the Macro-financial Assistance package.

8. The OSCE can play an important role in addressing the devastating impact of Russia's war on Ukraine's environment and economy, including by strengthening disaster risk management, supporting water resource management, and advancing Ukraine's transition to sustainable energy infrastructure. We commend the OCEEA’s immediate response to support Ukraine in coordination with the Ukrainian authorities, and welcome its engagement, including through the implementation of the project “Assessment of environmental impacts of the war against Ukraine and options for remediation”.

9. In light of Russia’s continuing war of aggression against Ukraine and on our common security, we also continue to attach particular importance to strengthening the resilience of critical energy networks, increasing energy efficiency and harnessing renewable energy as an effective means of enhancing energy security in the OSCE region. Moreover, the EU and Member States are proud donors to the Support Programme for Ukraine, with projects such as humanitarian demining - one of the priority areas for the EU and prerequisites for Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction.

10. Mr. Chair, the current dire situation would not have arisen if Russia had not launched its war of aggression against Ukraine and had upheld international law and its OSCE commitments. Russia must immediately end its war and withdraw all its military forces, proxies, and equipment, completely and unconditionally, from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. We remain unwavering in our support to Ukraine for as long as it takes.

The Candidate Countries NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE, the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, and BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA*, the Potential Candidate Country GEORGIA, and the EFTA countries LIECHTENSTEIN and NORWAY, members of the European Economic Area, as well as ANDORRA and SAN MARINO align themselves with this statement.

* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.