After Destroying Canals, Russian Forces Can’t Supply Water To Occupied Ukrainian Areas – OpEd


Even before Vladimir Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine last year, many observers noted that one goal he might have in doing so would be to supply water to Crimea which, after 2014, no longer received water from mainland Ukraine (

But far less attention was devoted to the fact that Moscow’s occupation of the Donbass, its destruction of pre-existing canals, and its failure to repair or replace them, despite numerous promises to do so has left that region without an adequate supply of water and put its industry and the health of its population at risk.

Moscow has regularly promised that it will take the steps necessary to address the problem ( But a new survey of developments there shows that it has not done so and that the lack of water is hitting the region hard (

Across Russian-occupied regions, there isn’t enough water for industries to operate, to prevent ground water from coal mine areas contaminating drinking water, or even for people to take baths and brush their teeth, a situation that is leading to a silent economic and health care disaster.

The longer the fighting goes on, the more existing canals are being destroyed and the greater the chance that diseases are going to spread even as the economy of the occupied region collapses. Only where the Russians have been driven out has the situation shown any sign of improvement. 

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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