With Crimean reservoirs running low, Ukraine vows to complete dam on canal which once provided almost 85% of the peninsula’s water

Seven years after Ukraine erected a makeshift dam to block the water supply to ‘disputed’ Crimea, Kiev’s emissary to the region threatened that the Black Sea peninsula will receive no water until Moscow lifts its “occupation.”

Writing on Facebook, Anton Korinevich, designated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to oversee policy on the matter, said that the blockade on the North Crimean Canal would be soon be made permanent. Before the canal was filled in, it provided around 85 percent of the local water supply.

The makeshift dam, hastily constructed in 2014 by the Ukrainian government, has increased the risk of a potential humanitarian crisis, with the peninsula already suffering from shortages due to climate change and a lack of rainfall. Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of human rights violations and has criticized international organizations for remaining silent.

After meeting with the canal management, Korinevich revealed the country’s “unambiguous” position – “no water to Crimea until de-occupation.”

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“We discussed important issues for the functioning of the canal, in particular the need to complete the dam on the 107th kilometer of the canal,” he said, noting that this would reduce even further the water heading to Crimea.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that one of the reservoirs in the Crimean capital, Simferopol is almost running dry. This came two months after authorities in the seaside resort of Yalta announced that water would be restricted to just six hours a day.

“The reserves of water in the Simferopol reservoir are almost depleted,” said Vladimir Bazhenov, the head of Crimean Water, calling the inflow “infinitesimal.”

In 2020, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin revealed that the federal government would spend 5 billion rubles ($64.5mn) to fix water supply issues.

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Crimea was re-absorbed into Russia in March 2014, following a referendum. The vote is not recognized by Kiev, and most Western nations view Crimea as an illegally-occupied Ukrainian peninsula.

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