Russian climate official apologizes for Ukraine invasion: Reports

·2 min read

The leader of the Russian delegation at an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference on Sunday apologized for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

The news agency cited three anonymous sources who were in the virtual, 195-nation meeting, which is closed to the press and the public. Politico and the Washington Post also confirmed the report.

"Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians not able to prevent this conflict," Russia's Oleg Anisimov reportedly said at the closing plenary meeting. Those who see what is happening "fail to find any justification for the attack on Ukraine," he added.

Anisimov, a veteran climate scientist who has authored previous IPCC reports, expressed "huge admiration" for the Ukraine delegation, which has kept working even as its country is under attack from its much larger neighbor.

Participants told AFP that everyone present found Anisimov's comments moving, especially in light of the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is known for ruthlessly punishing internal dissidents. "He knows that there is a risk for him; it was a very sincere message," said one participant.

The comments were made in Russian and simultaneously translated into English. AFP received only the translated remarks, not the original Russian.

Tanks on a road.
Ukrainian tanks on a road in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

"The surprise intervention from Russia’s Oleg Anisimov at the closed-door meeting followed an electrifying live statement from his Ukrainian counterpart, Svitlana Krakovska, who spoke passionately about her country's plight," AFP reported.

"We will not surrender in Ukraine, and we hope the world will not surrender in building a climate-resilient future," Krakovska said in English, according to AFP's sources.

"Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots — fossil fuels — and our dependence on them," she added. It is unclear what exactly she meant by that, but Russia's economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues, and Europe's dependence on Russian gas has made it unwilling to extend its sanctions to cutting off Russia's ability to sell gas on the continent. If Europe did not rely on fossil fuels to generate energy, it might be able to more effectively counter Russian aggression, according to global energy market experts.

The IPCC's Working Group II, which focuses on the human impacts of climate change, is scheduled to release its report for this, the sixth, "assessment cycle," on Monday morning. Krakovska expressed disappointment that the war in Ukraine will likely overshadow it in media coverage.