The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has refused to consider a complaint from a Crimean company that suffered losses due to the cessation of the supply of Dnieper water through the North Crimean Canal to the peninsula.
This news is spread by the Russian propaganda media, outraged by the fact that the European court allegedly rejected the complaint of the “Crimean Production Fish Factory” without any motivation.
A representative of the company in court, lawyer Oleksandr Molokhov, said that, according to the decision of Judge Latif Huseynov, the complaint was declared inadmissible and was not subject to further consideration without the right to appeal.
Earlier, the fish factory appealed to the courts of Ukraine with a demand to reimburse 60 million rubles of damages suffered for the company due to the cessation of water supply in 2014. However, the Kyiv Commercial Court returned the application without consideration due to the non-payment of court fees. Already in 2018, the Kyiv Commercial Court of Appeal denied the appeal of the fish factory against the decision of the Commercial Court of Kyiv.
The case turned out to be hopeless in the ECHR as well, although Russian propagandists interpret it in their own way, noting that European courts seem to be “afraid of complaints from Crimea like fire”. According to Molokhov, in the future, the fish factory plans to prepare a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.
Water in the Crimea is worth its weight in gold
In fact, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of one Crimean fish factory is a reason to look at the problem more broadly, to highlight one of the main pain points of the occupied Crimea. Because attempts in international courts to defend the right to receive monetary compensation for the lack of water supply to the Crimea can be seen primarily as an attempt to find at least some loophole and still get water.
Since 2014, Russia has invested billions of dollars in the development of the peninsula’s infrastructure: road and rail bridges connecting Crimea with mainland Russia have been built, power lines have been laid, and gas supplies have been provided. But one of the main problems is still unresolved – water supply.
After the blockade of the North Crimean Canal in 2014, freshwater reserves on the peninsula have seriously decreased. Several factors have contributed to this, but one is the increase in the number of military facilities and the expansion of their contingent on the peninsula, which also requires resources to service. And if in previous years agriculture was sacrificed for the needs of the military, now there is not enough water even to fully meet basic needs.
According to experts, water resources in the region have decreased by 60%. Warm winters and low rainfall in the spring of 2020 create the preconditions for a real catastrophe in summer or autumn. According to some estimates, water reserves will be completely depleted around July or August. The lack of drinking water is already exacerbating the health situation on the peninsula.
The Ukrainian government does not want to bargain
Representatives of official Kyiv are not going to negotiate with Russia on the restoration of water supply to Crimea, as the majority in Ukrainian society is categorically against the support of the occupiers.
“We are closely following the events taking place on the Crimean peninsula. Of course, the situation there, I would even say, is more than critical, and there are no tools to solve it from the point of view of the occupying power, the Russian Federation. But we do not plan to help Russia solve its problems as an occupier,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said recently.
He stressed that, in accordance with international law, the occupier is fully responsible for the situation in the occupied territories.
This position has been repeatedly confirmed by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov, who assures that Crimea will not receive Dnieper water until full de-occupation.
Experts warn of possible aggression
It is clear that there is almost a stalemate. But in conditions of acute shortage of freshwater, Russia can resort to the usual practice – armed aggression. To restore water supply from the Dnieper, Russia may launch a new military action against Ukraine.
This is stated in the material of the American center The Jamestown Foundation.
According to analyst Paul Goble, if the issue of water shortages in Crimea is not resolved, the West may make new demands to the Kremlin to return the peninsula to Ukraine. And in the current conditions, when the world is concerned about the problem of the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian Federation can get away with anything.
“It cannot be ruled out that Moscow will strike just such a military strike, especially since the Russian authorities at this time can count on the rest of the world to be busy by a coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, Moscow could expect that it would be able to present any such step as a “humanitarian” gesture, and not as clear military aggression,” the expert said.
Ukrainian military tightens security
Due to information about a possible invasion of the Russian military on the territory of the Kherson and Mykolaiv areas protection of objects of critical infrastructure is strengthened. This was announced by the commander of the Joint Forces Sergiy Nayev.
“We have planned to strengthen the protection of critical facilities. In particular, this applies to the supply of our Dnieper water to the temporarily occupied territories. We have strengthened all these facilities – both security and defense, and we are carrying out certain counter-sabotage and counter-terrorist measures,” Nayev said.
According to experts, in the event of a full-scale military invasion, Ukraine will not be able to survive long, because in Crimea alone Russia has now concentrated up to about 50 thousand soldiers (not taking into account the possibility of rapid transfer of reserve forces). They are armed with Iskander, S-400 SAM missiles, and Caliber cruise missiles on ships.
And in this situation, one can only hope that the world will not remain silent and put pressure on the aggressor even before a possible full-scale armed attack and that Ukraine will be provided with comprehensive diplomatic, economic and military assistance.