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News and Opinion from Ukraine and Europe on Military and Political Developments.

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Seizing Ukrainian water for Russian-occupied Crimea #1 task for Putin, Illarionov says.

Vladimir Putin has long made clear that he doesn’t believe that Ukraine has a right to exist as an independent country, Andrey Illarionov says. But his “number one task” in any military move against Ukraine now is to seize water supplies in southeastern Ukraine for water-short Russian-occupied Crimea.

The Russian economist says that Putin, if he achieves that, will likely order Russian forces deeper into Ukraine, guaranteeing a wider war if the US does not change its position and put NATO troops on the ground there.

Putin’s first goal, however, “is not Mariupol, not the spread of the ‘DNR’ onto the entire territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and not a [military] landing between Mykolayiv and Odesa.” He is interested in “the establishment of control over the North Crimean Canal” so that he can ensure water will be available to what he has already occupied.

north-crimean canal

The North-Crimean Canal that supplied Ukraine’s Crimea with most of freshwater it needed from 1975 up until the early months of the Russian occupation in 2014.

Seizing this area, Illarionov says, “does not present a major problem from the military point of view.” The problem, however, is holding it after it has been seized. By itself, Ukraine will find it difficult to defend against a Russian advance; but with help, it may be able to repel it or raise the costs of occupation to levels unacceptable in Moscow.

According to the economist, a move to seize the water supplies in this region would be the first step toward Moscow’s larger goal of gaining control over all of Ukraine’s Black Sea littoral, leaving that country a rump state with no easy access to the rest of the world. It would also leave Ukraine without enough water for its own population, something Moscow could exploit.

On the increasingly serious water shortages in Russian-occupied Crimea, see the following:

Further reading about Russia’s crimes in Crimea:

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