Efforts by leadership of the Russia-occupied Crimea region of Ukraine to access waters of the Dnieper River have been met with short shrift by the government of Ukraine.
Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Council of Ministers Georgy Muradov said August 12 that Crimean officials would ask Russian leadership to initiate negotiations with Ukraine to let Dnieper River waters, which originate in Russia, into the peninsula, saying "This is not Dnieper River water belonging to Ukraine, this is our water flowing from Russian territory”, claiming that Crimea has “a right” to Dnipro water as the river’s source lies near Smolensk in Russia, and demanding “serious talks” with Kyiv. Muradov went on to accuse Ukraine of violating international humanitarian law and international water law by cutting off supply of Dnieper water to Crimea after it “rejoined” Russia in 2014.
The comments have been swiftly rejected by Ukrainian public figures, including Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Representative on Crimea, Anton Korynevych, who said that Russia cannot pose questions linked with Crimea within the framework of inter-state relations. “The Dnipro River does not flow through the territory of Crimea. Ukraine did not block the source of the river, but the technology equipment (a canal) which is on Ukrainian territory, as it had the full right to do… All claims presented by the occupier state for Dnipro water, therefore, do not have any legal or international-legal basis. Crimea is Ukraine”.
Russian forces invaded Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014, after which Ukraine terminated water supply to occupied territories previously provided by the North-Crimean canal which links the Dnieper with the peninsula.
Water scarcity in Crimea has subsequently been linked to a chemical spillage and serious consequences to health in Armyansk in September 2018, and a lack of seasonal rain in 2019 has further exacerbated political tensions over water.