Tuesday, 29 September

The issue of Ukraine’s water supply to the territory of the Crimea annexed by Russia is one of those, that is still actively discussed on the Internet, and the supporters of this idea are not tired of arguing with the opponents, looking for more new reasons. Opinion has decided to find out, who is “for” and who is “against” the sale of water to the occupied territory, whether Ukraine should share its resource with the annexed territory and who stands to profit from the proclaimed ideas.

Who initiated the sale of water to the Crimea?

Among the supporters of the idea of selling water to the territory of the Crimea annexed by the Russian Federation, in fact, there are many people. One of them – Anatolii Mohilov, the former head of the Crimean government. During a speech on one of the Ukrainian TV channels, he stressed: if Ukrainians live in the Crimea, then they should be considered, because there may be a real disaster there.

“If we consider, that citizens who live in the Crimea are citizens of Ukraine, and we think about the further reintegration of the Crimea, then we must think about the people who live there. And we understand that water – is one of the most important components in the life support of a person. There may be a disaster, in drought years, but it can only be prevented by supplying water from Dnipro to the Crimea”, Mohilov considered.

According to the statement of the late prime minister of the Crimea, Ukraine should move to the economic plane and sell water, because we buy Russian oil and gas as well, and also dispose of these goods by our gas transportation system.

“I think that Ukraine should negotiate on this issue. Do we buy oil and gas in Russia? We do. Do we discharge Russian oil and gas through the natural gas transmission system of Ukraine? We do. Probably, it’s worth moving into the economic plane and selling our water. And to get more income from this, meanwhile, we just waste this water in the Black Sea,” said Anatolii Mohilov.

Particularly rapidly the discussion of the issue of the possible water sale to the territory of the occupied peninsula started after the advisor of the Minister of Information Policy Julia Kazdobina proclaim the news, in which she assured: it’s time to say that Ukraine is ready to supply water for a certain amount of money.

“At the beginning of the occupation, we were glad to refer to the norm of the international law, which says, that responsibility for the occupied territory lies on the invader, but we did not notice the norms, that say that this responsibility is common. Negative obligations on the human rights (i.e. the obligation to refrain from violating the rights of the population of the occupied territory) nobody took off from Ukraine. But I’m not just talking about responsibilities.

Now there is a drought in the Crimea. As time has shown, it is impossible for the invader to provide the Crimea with water. And it is unlikely to be changed. As a result, we have to drill a large number of wells, which leads to a complete depletion of fresh water resources and soil salination due to the transfer of sea water through porous strata. And this leads not just to the poor harvest and difficulties for the inhabitants of the northern and eastern regions, but also to a problem that, after occupation, will have to be resolved in many years. The solution of the problem will require large resources from the budget of Ukraine.”

The advisor of the Minister of Information Policy is convinced: we can solve the problem of the lack of water in the Crimea. The reasons for ignoring the problem, according to Kazdobina, are understandable, but at the same time it is possible that Ukraine will be blamed for droughts.” And assuring that we are ready to reestablish the supply, but not for free, we will transfer all responsibility to Russia. If they refuse, they will be guilty, and if they agree, they will need to spend money on the restoration of the channel. We will show, that we care of our citizens instead of gloating that the invader cannot provide them”, Julia Kazdobina said.

What are the reasons of those, who is against of it?

Refat Chubarov, the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, reflecting on the possibility of selling water to the occupied territory, stressed that, according to the Russian state mentality, water will primarily increase the Russian military presence, but the population of the peninsula will receive this resource on a left-over principle.

“And Mr. Mohilov, and the others, who offer to sell water, are very shy about many other issues. Let’s start with the question of how it will intensify the Russian military presence. You will not divide this water, I mean: this water is for the people, this is for hospitals. And then there is a military unit, tanks and so on. They must not! Everything, that is supplied or could be supplied, will primarily be aimed at strengthening the Russian military presence. And then there are people. We know Russian state mentality”, Refat Chubarov assured.

Commenting on this issue, Chubarov advised referring to Andrii Klymenko, an expert on the issues of the Crimea and the head of the supervisory council of the “Maidan of Foreign Affairs” Foundation. According to Klymenko, the activation of the water supply topic was known in advance, but nobody announced it, to reveal the “Russian influence group”. The expert is convinced: after the water, the authorities of Russia will take the liberation of trade with the occupied territory, and even this is not the last point of the program of Moscow.

“Of course, the Monitoring Group of “the Maidan of Foreign Affairs”, “the Black Sea Strategic Studies Institute” and www.blackseanews.net knew, that a campaign in mass media and social networks for the unblocking of the supply of Dnipro water to the occupied Crimea would begin a few days later. It started at the end of the last week. But we waited a little bit – so that the “special interest group of the Russian Federation”, working on the order, and just good and naive people who are very sympathetic and worried were found. This is only the first action point of the new RF program. The second – after getting water – the release of trade with the occupied territory. And the third, you will not believe it, but it is: actively seeking solutions to the renewal of the railway connection.

You will hear many sympathetic words. But none of them will say – who in fact, primarily, lacks the Dnipro water: 1) Firtash’s chemical plants are the main consumers of water; 2) 20 factories of the military-industrial complex, which build ships with “Caliber” rockets directed at us; 3) 60 thousand servicemen of the occupational armed forces of the Russian Federation and 100 thousand members of their families; ; 500 thousands of “brand-new arrivals” from FSB, prosecutors, investigators and policemen, kicking around and putting our citizens into prisons.

None of them will say, that this is the path at the end of which there is the recognition of the annexation de facto and the abolition of international sanctions. That is capitulation. And finally: this betrayal will not be taken place. We will not give up. So “worried”, may I ask you a favour? – do not worry that much. Do not expect fees from the occupying powers and murderers. You will not earn them”, Andrii Klymenko said.

What can happen to the Crimea without water?

Mykhailo Andriiovych, a journalist and a former deputy of the local self-government in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, is convinced that without water the Crimean territory may simply turn into a savanna, because its sources of income are not enough, and reserves of artesian water lie deep enough. Therefore, Crimeans will have to refuse to grow a number of crops. It will not do without impact on the tourist component and the industrial sector of the economy.

“Russia now assigns Ukraine the role of “the daughter-in-law, guilty of all problems”, generated by Russia. One of them is delivery to the territory of the Crimean peninsula of water. Now, in the period of global warming, without forced irrigation, a large area of the Crimea has all the chances to turn into a savanna, if not, in 5-15 years, into a desert, then at least into salt marshes. There is a clear lack of their own sources of fresh water supply is – almost half a century the water came from the Dnipro river basin. There are some reserves of artesian water – but they lie deep enough under solid rock formations. Thus, the Crimeans have to refuse, first and foremost, of the rice cultivation.

Further, there will be a decline in the cultivation of melons, stone fruits (peaches, apricots) and the reduction of vineyards’ areas. Lack of fresh water will negatively affect the tourism infrastructure and the industrial sector of the economy. The cost of local consumer goods will also rise. It is unreal to bring water from the Kuban through the Kerch Strait by pipelines – therefore, the only alternative source of fresh water can now be the construction of a desalination plant for sea water. This is a very expensive and energy-consuming production, whose product (drinking water) will be too expensive to use in agriculture.

Ukraine’s shutting down of water transportation has certain negative effects for Ukraine itself – some of the lands of the Kherson region will also feel a lack of water for irrigating farmland. If we take the fact, that the inhabitants of many villages of the steppe zone of Ukraine (Odesa, Kherson, Mykolaiv oblasts) also have problems with fresh water supply – it is not expedient to put the Crimeans above them”, is said in the comment on Opinion.

Should Ukraine supply water to the Crimea?

This question, of course, was discussed in the network almost the most, but Mykola Orlov, a lawyer, assured Opinion, that there is no legal obligation for Ukraine to supply water to the territory occupied by the Russian Federation: that is what said in the international law.

“From the standpoint of international law, Ukraine is not obliged to supply water to the Crimean territory. According to international humanitarian law, the territory of the Crimea is considered occupied, so all responsibilities for the provision of life on this territory are transferred to the occupying state”, the lawyer assured.

Mykhailo Andriiovych, on the contrary, confirmed, that water may not be enough for everyone, however, in the context of the question of Ukraine’s duty, he reminded, that water could be directed to the provision of Russian military objects and ships, as well as to the functioning of the estates of Russian oligarchs.

“Should Ukraine supply water to the Crimea? 50% of the population of the peninsula or even more (in some territory more, in some less) is provided with water for sanitary-hygienic needs and cooking. But given the current tendency to increase the number of inhabitants 2-3 times at the expense of immigrants from Russia – it is clear that the water “will not all be enough”. It is clear that part of fresh water (3-5% minimum) can be used to ensure the functioning of Russian military objects and ships. But not only military objects need fresh water – sanitary needs in the barracks can be offset by the free sea water. What cannot be said about the estates of the Russian oligarchs, built on the Black Sea coast – without fresh water they cannot exist. After all, the demand for consumption of some of them is not less than 200-500 cubic meters per day – first of all, it is a change of water in the pools and watering of multi-vector recreational areas”, Andriiovych thinks.

Who would benefit from Ukraine restoring water supplies?

During a press conference at the “Hlavkom” press center, the leader of the programs of democratic processes of the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Studies Yuliia Tyshchenko stressed, that the restoration of water supply could be profitable, first of all, for Crimean enterprises. After all, the occupants are not currently able to provide the peninsula with the required amount of water.

“Even if these discussions are taken seriously, it surprises me, why there is only an economic component – to take money from the occupier – and not the question of, for example, the release of the captives of the Kremlin. Restoring resources in the Crimea, we overwhelm the main idea – the Crimea has to come at a high cost for Russia. And the state of Ukraine should now calculate the losses, in order to put in the future the bill for the Russian Federation.

In addition to the water issue, the discussion on the restoration of trade and railways was updated. But why both water supply and rail connections were stopped? In order for the Crimea to become very expensive in service for the invaders. Therefore, for today the Crimea is an expensive and ambitious project. In the conditions of the imposed sanctions it becomes more expensive to hold”, Yulia Tyshchenko thinks.

The expert stressed: even after returning water, the population will not have any guarantees, that a valuable resource will be directed specifically to agriculture and farming. Most likely, the water will go into the enterprise. At the same time, Tyshchenko, like the previous experts, stressed that part of the allegedly received water could go to the Crimean militarization since the number of military contingents from Russia has increased and they need no less water.

Text by Dmytro Zhuravel

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