On the Verge of Environmental Disaster: Geopolitical Failure on the North Crimean Canal, Mehmet Altingoz
From Priyanka Mondal on April 15th, 2021
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The Crimean Peninsula is not self-sufficient in terms of water. To ensure regional water security, in 1975, the North Crimean Canal was completed and began diverting water from the Dnieper River to the peninsula. This was followed by significant migration to the region from other parts of the Soviet Union as well as initiated water extensive industrial and agricultural projects. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine cut off the water. This has had catastrophic consequences on the region e.g. industrial and agricultural activities almost entirely stopped, four thousand people were evacuated due to chemical leaks caused by water shortage. This also resulted in other services to Crimea such as electric and transportation to be terminated, complications with international travel and commerce, other Russian-Ukrainian joint water commissions such as the Siverskyi Donets River Commission to be abolished, and Russia and Ukraine to begin sabotaging each other in the various international platforms in which they both participate such as the Black Sea Commission. In addition, in the meantime, the canal has been clogged with silt and the pumps lost their function due to lack of maintenance. This paper conducted interviews with Russian and Ukrainian authorities as well scholars and reviewed policy documents and the relevant literature to offer recommendations for the Russian and Ukrainian policymakers. It suggests Russia and Ukraine to devolve authority to their depoliticized and technical level institutions and enable them to engage in extensive cooperation with each other to restore the canal and arrange sustainable water flow, which could also lead to resolving the aforementioned international and inter-party issues that this water cutoff caused.