Kiev putschists target Crimea. Dnieper River water was halted. North Crimean Canal sluices were closed. They run from the Khakhovka Reservoir to Kersh.
On April 24, The Moscow Times headlined “Water War With Ukraine to Devastate Crimean Harvest,” saying:
It’ll “cost Crimean farmers up to 5 billion rubles ($140 million), according to Russia’s Agricultural Ministry.”
Ag Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said crops “will be partially or fully lost across 120,000 hectares of farmland…” Rice production is hit hardest.
Moscow will partly compensate for losses. Southern Ukrainian Dnieper River water provides over 80% of Crimean water.
It has few readily available internal sources. Earlier in April, Kiev cut water flows from 90 cubic meters per second to seven cubic meters.
It’s the “lowest technically feasible volume,” said The Moscow Times. Kiev’s decision to do so didn’t wash.
It reacted to Russian reunification. It’s inflicting punishment in response. How effectively for how long remains to be seen.
More on this below. According to Fyodorov:
“We are going to lose the irrigated crops this year. Maybe not 100 percent, but the greater part.”
Half of 120 affected hectares are in vineyards. Another 30,000 produce rice.
It’ll take time to compensate for what’s lost, said Fydorov. Various options are being considered.
They include supplying Crimean water by pipeline from Southern Russia’s Kurban region across the Kerch Strait.
In 2012, Crimea’s agricultural output totaled $4.3 billion. It’s about 10% of the peninsula’s economy.
Harvest losses this year could affect over 30% of Crimea’s agricultural sector.
Total Crimean agricultural land totals over 1,800 hectares. Most is arable.
It’s in Dzhankoy, Pervomayskoe, Krasnogvardeyskoe, Saki, Simferopol and Kirovskoe regions.
Temperate and subtropical zone crops are grown. They include grapes, apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, aromatic plants, rapeseed and rice.
High quality wines, brandy and fruit juices are produced. Average annual production is around 120,000 tons of grapes and 14 – 16 million wine materials.
Exports to dozens of countries follow. Livestock production includes poultry, sheep, pigs and cattle.
Azov-Black Sea basin and inner basin fish breeding is growing. Milling produces around 280,000 tons of grain annually.
Around 101,000 tons of bakery products are produced each year. So are 18,000 tons of noodles and 75 tons of macaroni.
Canned fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese, butter, other dairy products, beer and soft drinks are produced.
On April 26, Voice of Russia headlined “Crimean authorities say they have fallback water supply plan, not dependent on Kiev.”
Plenty of regional fresh water around, said Prime Minister Sergei Aksyanov. “Crimea will not be left without water.” Drinking water not affected.
“We have fallback plans.” There are no problems with fresh water. Land is being redrawn in likely most affected areas.
“Agricultural producers will receive compensations for losses.” No one will be left high and dry.
“We are also considering an alternative plan for drilling wells, and we are working on this day and night,” Aksyanov explained.
Kiev putschists “act like enemies trying to cause their former fellow citizens harm.”
“But they will get a proper assessment from the people of Crimea and will always be persona non-grata in the republic. Usually, those who mischief hatch, mischief catch.”
Kiev blocking plans circulated on April 18. At first, Ukraine’s Government Agency for Water Resources denied them.
Earlier, Crimean Standing Commission of the State (economic/fiscal/investment policies) Council chairman Vitaly Nahlupin said advance payment was offered.
Kiev “sabotaged” talks. Only about 5% of water needed comes through North Crimean Canal sluices. Other amounts were halted.
Expect Kiev’s policy to be a temporary setback. Reunification with Russia promises far greater benefits than remaining in Ukraine.
Separately, Lavrov called for ending Kiev’s Eastern Ukrainian offensive. He wants Right Sector killings halted.
He raised “the issue of political prisoners and urged the United States to use its influence for the release of protest movement leader arrested in southeastern Ukraine.”
According to Moscow’s Foreign Ministry:
“The attention of the Secretary of State has been drawn to the proposals of the Party of Regions and public movements of the southeast regarding the beginning of all-Ukraine national dialog and constitutional reform.”
“Kerry assured that Washington will aspire to use its capabilities to encourage the Kiev authorities for certain steps to decrease tension and expressed hope that the southeastern regions will respond to these steps.”
“The parties have also discussed the measures being taken to resolve the situation with the detention of military monitors of European countries, who arrived to Ukraine upon the invitations of the Kiev authorities in the framework of procedures stipulated in the Vienna document of 2011 on measures to enhance trust and security and who went to the southeast without appropriate notification of public structures controlling the situation on sites.”
On April 25, Eastern Ukrainian self-defense forces blocked a bus. Pro-Kiev intelligence operatives were aboard. So were OSCE monitors.
According to spokesman Yevgeny Gorbik:
OSCE representatives “denied any relation” to others traveling with them. They had “cryptograms and notebooks with secret notes.”
“A Bulgarian officer had a notebook with notes in Russian which confirm his intelligence activities and speak of a meeting with agents.”
“No charges have been brought against them so far. But they’ve ended up in a company that calls into question the legitimacy of their activities.”
“The investigation is underway to find out what they were doing and where.”
Eastern Ukrainian areas remain targeted. Putschists want all opposition eliminated. Military operations are underway to achieve it. The battle for Ukraine’s soul continues.