Russia-Ukraine Water War?

Russia-Ukraine Water War?

by Scott Ritter, July 2020

The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 has been widely condemned internationally and rejected by successive Ukrainian presidential administrations as illegal. For its part, Russia has insisted that Crimea will remain part of Russia in perpetuity. Save for a few naval incidents, this standoff over Crimea has been without direct military conflict, unlike the situation in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian troops. But the Crimean dispute still remains tense and increasingly threatens to spill over into armed conflict over the issue of water. The decision by the Ukrainian government to cut off water supplies to Crimea in 2014 has forced Russia to spend billions of dollars on alternative supplies, but these have turned out to be inadequate. Russia is faced with the reality that Crimea is rapidly running out of water, and without some diplomatic solution, the only way to fully rectify this situation is through force of arms. Such an escalation could also again threaten the transit of Russian gas across Ukraine to Europe, which was extended for another five years in March.

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