Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged New Zealand to play a role in building support for a peace plan that includes a focus on the environmental impacts of Russia’s 10-month-old war on Ukraine.
Zelenskyy delivered a video address to New Zealand’s parliament Wednesday, telling lawmakers that Russian attacks have polluted rivers, flooded coal mines and destroyed chemical sites. He said 174,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory are contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance.
“The destroyed economy and infrastructure can be rebuilt. It takes years,” Zelenskyy said. “But you cannot rebuild destroyed nature. Just as you cannot restore destroyed life.”
In his nightly video address to Ukrainians late Tuesday, Zelenskyy thanked those who have supported his country after two conferences that yielded pledges of more than $1 billion in aid from about 70 countries and institutions.
The aid will help Ukraine repair infrastructure battered by Russian airstrikes that in recent weeks have cut power and water supplies for millions of Ukrainians. About $400 million will specifically go toward the country’s energy sector.
“We cannot leave them [Ukrainians] alone faced with winter, faced with their aggressor, which is seeking to inflict difficulties on them,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters after the meetings in Paris.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told reporters that the new aid “is a very powerful signal. It shows that the whole of the civilized world is supporting Ukraine.”
The conference followed a pledge Monday from the leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations to meet Ukraine’s urgent requirements for military and defense equipment.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters