The Climate and Energy Impacts of Putin’s War on Ukraine

Joel B. Stronberg
6 min readMar 1, 2023
UZHHOROD, UKRAINE Local residents make camouflage nets for Ukrainian defenders

It’s been a year since Russian President Putin declared an unprovoked war on Ukraine. Much has changed since then — not just in Russia and Ukraine but worldwide.

The war’s true cost will prove incalculable. How do you cost account the scourge of a sovereign nation of 41 million people by an autocratic leader bent on empire?

The Save the Children campaign estimates that eight million Ukrainians have become refugees since the war began, and six million are internally displaced; just under two million of the eight million have returned. Many of the 14 million will have no homes to return to at war’s end and will likely seek new lives in foreign lands.

Many nations are paying the price of Putin’s war in different ways. For the US and the Western and NATO allied countries, there are the tens of billions of dollars for guns, missiles, tanks, and other implements of war. Let’s not forget the billions for humanitarian and economic aid.

Once the aggressor is defeated, billions more will be needed to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure — its cities and towns. Not all payments will be made in cash.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has accused Russia of creating the largest minefield in the world on 250,000 square kilometers of prime agricultural lands. Those who work to clear the thousands of landmines now littering the breadbasket of Europe will add their lives and limbs to the debit column.

Global food security is being exacerbated by a drought in the Horn of Africa and unusually harsh weather in other parts of the world.

According to the Atlantic Council, an American think tank, Ukraine’s fertile fields could feed the world. If only Putin’s war had never started.

According to the OECD, lost agricultural production in Ukraine and Russia due to the war could add anywhere from 19 to 34 percent to the global price of wheat.

We’re dealing now with a massive food insecurity crisis. It’s the product of a lot of things…including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.[i].”

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Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.