Ukraine could resume the water supply to Crimea in exchange for concessions in the negotiations on the Donbas, said Servant of the People party leader Davyd Arakhamia to the Verkhovna Rada, as broadcast by the TV channel Pryamiy.
“If we give water to Crimea, we will have a big advantage in the negotiations on the Donbas – that’s my personal position, I’d consider it an adequate compromise,” said the MP. He said that Kyiv could send water to the occupied peninsula if the Russians “withdraw to Rostov, and we establish control over the border”.
At the end of January, Yuriy Arystov, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Budget Matters, said that Ukrainian MPs are considering the possibility of selling water to Crimea. Vladimir Dzhabarov and Sergey Tsekov, members of Russia’s Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee, told RBC news agency that this would benefit both countries.
After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Ukraine shut the sluice gates on the North Crimean Canal, which used to provide the peninsula with water from the Dnieper river, sustaining the majority of Crimea’s agricultural sector.
In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.
On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.
International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.