One year after violent conflict began, information is now emerging on the specific environmental impact of war in Ukraine’s highly industrialised Donbas region. Although obtaining accurate data is difficult, indications are that the conflict has resulted in a number of civilian health risks, and potentially long-term damage to its environment. In order to mitigate these long-term risks, international and domestic agencies will have to find ways to coordinate their efforts on documenting, assessing and addressing the damage.
If events like those in Ukraine have taught us anything it is that, despite the predictions of many, the potential for conflict between the major powers is still one of the defining characteristics of world politics. Crisis diplomacy and inter-state rivalry is back on the global agenda. But if policymakers, analysts and civil society actors are to try and come up with ways of reversing the trend towards an increasingly competitive, militarised and crisis-driven inter-state order, then thinking carefully through the implications of a sustainable security approach to great power politics would appear to be a most useful starting point.
The Russian annexation of Crimea may be in direct contravention of international agreements but is popular in Russia and almost certain to hold. Given tensions within Ukrainian society and its weak transitional government, there remains some risk of further intervention in eastern Ukraine and possibly the Trans-Dniester break-away region of Moldova. Even if there is no further escalation in the crisis, the deterioration in EU/Russian and US/Russian relations is of great concern, not least in relation to two aspects of Middle East security – the Syrian civil war and the Iran nuclear negotiations.