Russia suing Ukraine for

Russia suing Ukraine for "ecocide" over Crimea water shortage

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has initiated a criminal case under Article 358 of the Criminal Code (ecocide) into the “blocking by Ukraine of the North Crimea Canal."

That’s according to the Committee’s press service.

The inquiry was launched by the IC Main Investigation Department. According to the Russian side, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, "unidentified individuals in the territory of Ukraine <...> decided to inflict harm on the economic, social, and environmental situation of the Crimean peninsula by blocking the North Crimea canal."

The Russians claim that, as a result of the construction of a dam in Ukraine mainland’s Kherson region on April 26, 2014, water supply from the Dnipro River through the said canal was put to a halt and that "the lack of proper water supply in the region causes depletion of agricultural land and fauna."

Read also: Crimea Platform participants adopt joint declaration

"Over the past six years, the Sivash's salinity has tripled. Populations of almost all considered fauna species, including those from the Red List of Russia and the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, have declined, while some can be considered extinct. The Central Sivash and the Eastern Sivash wetlands of international importance are losing their environmental significance," the statement said.

The IC claims that "the closure of the North Crimea Canal has affected the quality of drinking water and that used for household needs,” adding that the water exceeds a salinity cap, having a negative impact on human health."

As Ukrinform reported, in early August, the Ministry of Ecology of Ukraine explained that own water resources on the occupied peninsula are sufficient to cover the needs of the local population. Water scarcity is due to three main factors: industry that consumes much of water resources; the agricultural sector developing in the steppe Crimea; and the major Russian army contingent requiring freshwater to maintain equipment and provide for the servicemen’s needs.

At the same time, the North Crimea Canal is an artificial structure that is not covered by the UN Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes.

Until 2014, the North Crimea Canal had been the main source of water supply to Crimea, bringing water from the Kakhovka Reservoir. The canal used to cover up to 85% of Crimea's freshwater demand. Of 402.6 km of its length, 73% is across the territory of the peninsula.

Read also: UK ready to ensure success of Crimea Platform – Minister for European Neighbourhood

With the onset of the occupation of Crimea by Russia in April 2014, water supply from the Dnipro River to the peninsula was severed. Ukraine's official position is that water from the mainland will be supplied only once the peninsula has been deoccupied.

According to experts, Russia is not able to provide water to Crimea on its own due to the extremely high cost of the endeavor. Now the situation with water supply across the occupied Crimea remains critical. Therefore, the occupation authorities intend to spend RUB 70 million on exploring new freshwater sources in the Sea of ​​Azov. Experts note that the idea of ​​extracting fresh water from under the seabed is unfounded.


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