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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Ukraine says it will resume water supplies to Crimea as soon as the government regains control over the peninsula that is now being occupied by the Russian Federation.

In a statement released on September 15, 2020, the ministry said their position is based on the norms of international law.

"We state the fact that, while claiming the pretext of 'humanitarian need', Russian occupation authorities in Crimea in fact lack water for the accelerated buildup of military facilities and defense enterprises. Also, it is obvious that the need for water resources is growing amid further colonization of the peninsula, that is, resettlement within a targeted policy of altering Crimea's demographic composition. Such actions by the occupying state constitute a war crime. Their goal is to populate Ukrainian territories by Russian citizens loyal to their country's expansionist policies and, thus, to consolidate the illegal occupation," the ministry said.

Ukrainian diplomats says crimes against humanity and war crimes against Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied Crimea include murders, abductions, torture, attacks on human dignity, etc. These crimes are being investigated in Ukraine and studied by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as part of a preliminary study of the situation in Ukraine.

Read alsoMP tells of Zelensky's stance on resumption of water supplies to occupied CrimeaThe Foreign Ministry reiterated the fact that the international community has condemned these crimes, in particular in the annual resolutions of the UN General Assembly 2016-2019 "Human Rights Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine."

At the same time, the statement says water supply to the population of the temporarily occupied Crimea, as well supplies of other resources, food, and medicines, in accordance with the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, is an obligation of the occupying power, which is the Russian Federation.

"Any statements about the alleged violation of international law by Ukraine in connection with the cessation of water supply are void from the point of view of international law and, obviously, are intended to 'find someone to blame' for the costs incurred by Russia for the seventh year as a result of the illegal occupation of Crimea and deployment of a large-scale militarization of the peninsula, for which Russian taxpayers pay," the foreign ministry said.

Water supplies to Crimea: background

  • Prior to Crimea occupation by Russia, Ukraine used to cover up to 85% of the peninsula's needs for fresh water through the North Crimean Canal.
  • After the annexation in 2014, water supplies were severed.
  • Water reserves in Crimea are replenished from natural runoff reservoirs and underground sources.
  • Environmentalists say the regular use of water from underground sources has led to soil salinization.
  • On September 7, in Simferopol, Bakhchisarai, and Simferopol districts, due to ongoing drought and shallowing of reservoirs, the third, most severe, stage of water supply restrictions was introduced.
  • On the same day, an OHCHR representative said it is Russia who bears responsibility for ensuring water supplies to the occupied Crimea.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says restoration of water supply to Crimea would be possible only in the context of the occupied peninsula's end of occupation. At the same time, there is no humanitarian crisis with freshwater in occupied Crimea whatsoever, chief of Ukraine's diplomacy emphasizes. "The narrative about the 'humanitarian crisis' was invented by Russian propaganda in order to convince the world that water supplies to Crimea are necessary."