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You're reading: Ukraine spurns Russia’s accusations that it shut off water tap to Crimea

Russia's Agriculture Minister Nikolay Fedorov announced on April 24 that Ukraine had blocked the North Crimean water channel, which is the main water supply source for the peninsula annexed by the Russian Federation. 

As a result, Crimea could lose crops on 120,000 hectares of land
which requires irrigation, while the financial losses would reach $13.6 million
that is quite a substantial sum for the region, said Fedorov.

The North Crimean channel was finished in 1971 to provide amble water
supplies to the peninsula – Crimea relies on the rest of Ukraine for 80-85
percent of the water that it consumes. Crimea would
essentially be an arid desert without the water it gets from the Dnipro River
via the 400-kilometer Northern Crimean Canal that connects the peninsula with
the Kakhov Reservoir to the north. The peninsula’s fruit and vegetable growers,
and winemakers, rely on mainland water supply for their livelihood. The cities
of Simferopol, Sevastopol, Kerch, Sudak, Feodosia, and others need it as a life
source. 

Ukraine’s Water Resources Agency denies the stoppage of the
water supplies to Crimea through the North-Crimean channel. “North-Crimean
channel works as usual, all irrigation systems are working,” reads the
statement on the agency’s website.

According to the statement, despite Russia’s claims otherwise,
it has not offered signing a contract to regulate water supplies to Crimea, and
thus the peninsula currently uses the water without any legal permission.

“The channel does not run during the winter season. We turned on
the water supplies on March 19, and the current Crimean customers’ debt reached $0.14
million and it has not been settled yet,” says the water agency’s
statement.

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has essentially
escalated during the past several days. Ukrainian troops have taken control
over three checkpoints around the city of Sloviansk in northern Donetsk
Oblast.  According to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, five insurgents
have been killed and one police officer has been wounded in the attack.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on April 24 that the
violence stemming from Ukraine’s anti-terror operation in eastern Ukraine has
prompted Russia to launch military drills in western Russia along Ukraine’s
eastern border.

Kyiv Post staff writer Vladyslav Golovin can be reached at golovin@kyivpost.com. 

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