Russia’s annexation of Crimea has consequences for Ukraine in ensuring environmental protection in Crimea and complicates meeting Ukraine’s obligations under several multilateral environmental agreements. Despite this, Ukraine is using legal mechanisms to deal with this and prevent negative consequences in the future.

On October 24-25 the 34th regular session of the Black Sea Commission took place. It is a body established under the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution to support its implementation (Ukraine is one of the six parties to the Convention, which it signed on April 21, 1992 and ratified on April 4, 1994). The agenda included adoption of the budget and work programme of the Commission for 2018-2019, reports on implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Black Sea (2009), other items related to the work of the Commission and Permanent Secretariat. 

As the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine stressed, Ukraine had to block adoption of the budget to finance the activities of the Commission’s working groups with participation of Ukraine citizens resident in Crimea and Sevastopol city. Those citizens were supposed to represent Russia. Therefore, Ukraine had to prevent any future illegitimate decisions that could have been taken with participation of Ukrainian citizens from Crimea and nominated by Russia as an attempt to legitimize annexation of Crimea.

This is not the first time Russia is trying to use multilateral environmental agreements to legitimize Crimea’s annexation. As noted by Ostap Semerak, the Minister of Environment of Ukraine, Ukrainian delegation prevented double-reporting to the UNFCCC secretariat on greenhouse emissions from Crimean territory when Russia submitted its own data regarding Crimea.