A former senior adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken out that he believes Moscow is preparing to send its special forces to seize a vital canal that provided water to Crimea before Ukraine shut off supplies following the Kremlin’s invasion and illegal annexation of the peninsula in 2014. On Dec. 5, Illarionov gave a warning to Ukrainian diplomats in Washington, DC, that he believes Russian military head sheds are preparing to break out of the peninsula, deep into Ukraine’s mainland, in order to seize the canal and other vital facilities.
The peninsula has little natural water sources of its own and relied on a 400-kilometer canal channeling water from Ukraine’s largest river, the Dnepr, to provide up to 85 percent of its water needs. After Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, the Ukrainian government blocked the canal and stopped water supplies to Crimea, in summer 2014. Since then, the threat of a heavy drought has been among the top topics in Crimea.
“Without water from Ukraine, Crimea is doomed,” Illarionov said
So why now why has this warning popped up? Well, in light of President Vladimir Putin antics in the Azov Sea, I believe he is aware the West is preparing a move to act as a blockade for any further escalation within the Azov Sea — leaving a limited time window for any further aggression by Russia against Ukraine. The window of opportunity for Russia will most likely be between the end of the G20 summit just held in Argentina, and the 31st of March the Presidential elections in Ukraine.
Why is this a perfect time frame? Well, no presidency would like to have the start of a fresh war campaign on their hands. Prior to elections, President Petro Poroshenko will have trouble convincing the Ukrainian population to mobilize its armed forces — and indeed the reserve forces, if such an assault happens. Crimea itself has very little water supplies and nowhere near a large enough reserve to maintain both commercial and agricultural business entities. Crimea will undoubtedly run out of water in the summer of next year, leaving the population no option but to relocate… and Russia cannot have that. Illarionov said that Russian publications in recent days have published articles about water shortages on the peninsula and about military exercises in the north of Crimea near the narrow land corridor linking it to Ukraine’s mainland Kherson region.
This is just one small warning sign that Russia will continue with its aggression against Ukraine within the region. Due more so to the fact that there has been little repercussion, and now Russia — and indeed president Vladimir Putin — will be feeling that it can do what it wants when it wants, without any consequences.