Staunton, April 24 – Moscow has made no secret that among its war aims in Ukraine is the restoration of control over the water system in southeastern Ukraine on which Ukraine’s Crimea had relied before Putin annexed it in 2014 and Kyiv cut off the flow of water to the peninsula.
But even though Russian forces established full control over the rivers and canals that had brought water there before 2014, they have not been able to restore anything like a full flow and won’t be for a year or more, according to Sergey Gapon of the World Center for Data on Geo-Information and Stable Development (ehorussia.com/new/node/25797).
According to Gapon, satellite imagery show that water has moved part of the way south but in smaller quantities than are needed to meet Crimea’s needs or fill the Mezhgornoye reservoir near Simferopol. In fact, he says, the water level of that reservoir has remained unchanged since before February 24th.
From this he concludes that “the Russian invaders have failed to establish a system for pumping water through the canal.” Since 2014, the canal has silted up, pumping stations have fallen into disrepair, and concrete slabs along the canal have in some cases been removed and not replaced.
Moreover, Gapon continues, Crimea isn’t prepared for a restoration of the flow of water. To address these problems is going to take time, possibly far more than a year. To the extent that is true, for some time to come, Russia may control the canals but it isn’t going to have the water flowing them that Crimea needs.