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Environment threatened by Ukraine border wall

Plans of Ukraine may inflict major damage on the flora and fauna of five Russian regions

MOSCOW, September 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia has expressed concern over the ecological consequences of a wall that the Ukrainian authorities intend to build along a 1,500km section of its 2,300km border with Russia, Izvestia newspaper reports on Friday.

Deputy head of the Science and Technology Committee of the State Duma Mikhail Degtyaryov has prepared appeals to the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The appeals request setting up an international ecological monitoring commission and assessment of the construction of separation ditches, the wall itself and other structures on the border, already being built under the Ukrainian authorities’ command.

The newspaper quotes the lawmaker as saying that “plans of the neighboring state may inflict major damage on the flora and fauna of five Russian regions, along which the large-scale construction works are planned.”

“Ukraine's incapable leaders do not think of their own people and nature, but we should think about them,” Degtyaryov said, calling for “assessing possible damage to the flora and fauna” and stopping this project “altogether”. Russia's Ecology Ministry told the newspaper it would consider the deputy's proposals within the statutory period.

Izvestia says a major biosphere reserve - the Bryansk Forest - is located not far from the Ukrainian border, at a distance of 30km.

The reserve is a section of the natural ecological “corridor” of the Eastern Polesye, which in 2001 the United Nations scientific agency UNESCO included into the biosphere reserve network. The Alyokhin Central Black Soil Reserve is located in the Kursk region, of which four sections belong to the Dnipropetrovsk river basin. The Dnieper river itself has many tributaries running along the border between Russia and Ukraine.

Mikhail Kreindlin, head of the Greenpeace Protected Areas program, told the newspaper that some structures planned to be built in Ukraine along the border may damage flora and fauna.

“Although reserves within Russia’s jurisdiction do not stretch beyond the country’s boundaries, construction of this wall may affect the flora and fauna of the adjoining areas," said Kreindlin.

"If the wall is made blind, it will impede migration of animals. If not, migration will not be blocked but the wall’s function will be unclear. As for numerous rivers flowing across the border, if the Ukrainian authorities decide to make dams on them, this may change the rivers’ courses,” he added.

“I hope Ukraine’s authorities in the preparation of the wall project and other border facilities will take into account the opinion of ecology, geology and all other relevant experts,” said Kreindlin.