How Russia “overcame” Crimea’s water blockade
Spoiler alert: it didn’t.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claims that Russia has set up a 32-kilometer temporary water pipeline in the occupied Crimea, which he says helped lift the “water blockade” of the peninsula before the trunk water pipeline construction is completed.
The statement can be viewed as a post-truth policy and propaganda message that doesn’t correspond to the logic of common sense. Anyone capable of critical thinking who is at least a little familiar with the geography of Crimea will have serious doubts.
If we look at the length of the peninsula from north to south, from west to east, or at the distance between neighboring regional centers, it will obviously be more than 32 kilometers. How can such a short water pipe route remove the problem of “water blockade”? The pipe could only facilitate supply in a particular area. But strategically, this does not enhance fresh water security of the Crimean Peninsula.
Shoigu does not specify exactly where the water supply route was laid and from which source fresh water is being taken. We can assume that this is about the rerouting of some of the mountain rivers, pumping water out of some reservoir or extracting it from an artesian well. While I see these three sources.
Recently, occupation authorities have taken measures aimed at alleviating the water shortage on the peninsula. However, these are no long-term steps and they don’t fundamentally resolve the issue of water supply shortage. They can only mitigate the problem, while, at the same time, bringing long-term implications for the environment.
For example, due to the diversion of riverbeds, there comes an impending change in the ecosystem of a particular area, which poses a threat to the existence of certain species of fish and other species. Reservoirs in Crimea are also gradually drying out as occupation authorities keep pumping out more water than comes in from natural sources.
It is also harmful to supply water from artesian wells because Crimea has peculiar geology: the more fresh groundwater is pumped out, the more salty water gets into the soil. Due to soil salinization, lands become unsuitable for vegetation.
Therefore, Shoigu’s statement is a manipulation ridden with propaganda clichés. It aims to convince the Crimean and Russian population that the peninsula can do without water from the North Crimea Canal.
Yevhen Yaroshenko is an analyst with the CrimeaЅOЅ initiative