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Sep 14, 2020
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How the LPR will respond to Kiev’s water blackmail

Ukraine again launched an attack on the civilian population of the unrecognized republics of Donbass - this time Kiev sharply limited the supply of water to the LPR. At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities refer to purely financial rather than political reasons. Is this really so and how long will the republics of Novorossiya depend on the communal whims of Kiev?

Kiev stopped the supply of water to the territory of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, which was carried out from the Western Filtration Station (ZFS), the press service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the LPR reported. "According to the notification of the KP" Popasnyansky District Vodokanal "(under the control of Kiev), due to the de-energization of the pumping stations ZFS-1, ZFS-2, ZFS-3 - from 10.00 (coincides with Moscow time) on September 10 until the voltage resumed, the water supply from the territory Of Ukraine ", - RIA Novosti quotes a representative of the department. As a result, the cities of Stakhanov, Kirovsk, Bryanka, Perevalsk, Alchevsk, Zorinsk, Artyomovsk, Pervomaisk and the urban-type settlement Slavyanoserbsk were left without water supply.

"The lack of water supply to the above-mentioned settlements will be no more than 70%," the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the LPR specified. The Petrovskaya Pumping Station and the Western Filtering Station are the only sources of water supply for the LPR remaining on the territory controlled by Kiev. The republic receives the rest of the water independently from Kiev. The ratio is about 30% to 70%, and the LPR is striving in the near future to completely get rid of the partial dependence on the water issue from Ukraine. In all the indicated settlements, a standardized water supply has been introduced, and relevant notifications have appeared on city sites.

This is not the first time it has been disconnected, or even the 20th. The Ukrainian side stops the supply of water from the FSL to the LPR approximately once every two months. Sometimes this is due to accidents (for example, in July their pipe burst) or the overhaul of the FSF (they were built under Brezhnev), but most often this is a "dispute between economic entities", and both Ukrainian entities: KP "Popasnyansky District Vodokanal" and Luhansk Energy Association (LEO).

Ukrainian water workers owe power engineers UAH 187 million and refer to the fact that these are LPR debts that were formed during the period of active hostilities in 2014-2016. Ukrainian power engineers, in turn, are not interested in all this. Therefore, they regularly cut off water intakes and pumping stations from electricity, which in February of this year almost led to an environmental disaster (there are chlorine purifiers) and disconnection from water of about a million residents of both the LPR and the territory controlled by Ukraine.

They tried to solve the issue at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, then the office of the President, and in the end they came up with a trick:

a separate legal entity was created, which, as it were, entered into a new agreement with the LEO and assumed the responsibility for ensuring the current supply of water to the population, including the LPR. This "person" does not seem to have current debts to LEO, so there seems to be nothing to turn off the electricity. The system lasted spring and summer, after which the power engineers again demanded to pay back old debts.

The Ukrainian side is stubbornly shifting responsibility to Lugansk. “We insist that they owe us almost 170 million hryvnias (6.1 million dollars - approx. LOOK), and we have documents confirming this amount. They (LPR - approx. VZGLYAD) say that they are ready to pay about 87. Perhaps we will agree to compensation for 87 million, but we will prescribe that we do not agree with this amount, "said Sergei Gaidai, head of the Ukrainian Luhansk regional administration ( OGA).

LPR is ready to pay. But the Ukrainian side demands payment in hryvnia. On the other side of the river, in general, they are very closely monitoring the observance of such formal details. According to unverified information, the LPR paid a significant amount in small bills of two and five hryvnias, as well as in coins, which were carried over the bridge across the Donets to Shchastya in sacks. The Ukrainian side categorically denies this apocrypha, since it is a criminal offense for them: Ukrainian officials and business entities are allowed to deal with the DPR and LPR only by bank transfer. In the end, according to other sources, the Ukrainian side agreed to borrow in dollars.

Meanwhile, even purely technologically, it is impossible to completely stop the water supply to the LPR. This is how the mechanism invented back in Soviet times works. The Ukrainian side is very nervous about the prospect of ending up without any money from the LPR at all (albeit in small coins). The same Sergei Gaidai predicts that already in January 2021 the LPR will be able to fully provide itself with water, regardless of Kiev. In this case, the Ukrainian losses of the water utility will be from 7 million hryvnia (more than 250 thousand dollars - approx. VZGLYAD) to 12 million hryvnia (more than 430 thousand dollars - approx. VZGLYAD) per month.

All this from the series - to whom the war, and to whom the mother is dear. Stopping the water supply to the LPR is a violation of humanitarian obligations and generally looks bad. At the same time, it is at the site of the Popasnyansky Vodokanal that this happens with dangerous regularity and is motivated mainly by financial showdowns on the Ukrainian territory between Ukrainian institutions. In other areas, for example, at Happiness, where the supply is carried out directly to the city of Lugansk, shutdowns were previously of a political nature. In response, Luhansk threatened to turn off the electricity on the Ukrainian side (there is such an interdependence). Usually the threat worked.

The situation is similar with the water supply of Donetsk. Historically, in general, the entire Donbass is a waterless steppe, and the water supply system was gradually created in Soviet times, relying mainly on the Seversky Donets (a tributary of the Don) and the system of canals dug from it and to it. But the northern part of the former Luhansk region - the one that is now controlled by the Ukrainian side - is more provided with water resources simply due to the terrain and climatic features. And the mining towns of the central and southern parts of the region remain partially dependent on the old Soviet supply system.

And if by January the LPR can really switch water supply flows to Russia and fully provide itself with water without contact with the Ukrainian system of pumping stations and water intakes, then Ukraine will lose a serious leverage on the republic.

Something like this happened at the very beginning of the war, when the power supply of the LPR and DPR was first switched to Russia according to a reserve scheme, and then on an ongoing basis, and disconnected from the Ukrainian power system.

In general, in the long term, all this will mean not only some financial losses for local Ukrainian energy networks and water utilities, but a complete switch of all life support systems of the LPR and DPR to Russia. And this is a completely different strategic environment, in which there will be absolutely no need to find any compromises not only with the local Ukrainian authorities represented by the Regional State Administration or business entities, but also with Kiev in general. But in this mode, a couple of moves ahead, no one "beyond the river" seems to be thinking.

All this, of course, looks strange. Logically speaking, the Ukrainian side is politically interested in looking attractive in the eyes of Lugansk residents, at least in the humanitarian sphere. How many different plans were there to “attract Donbass residents to the side of free Ukraine” through all kinds of handouts. It all degenerated into ATMs at the checkpoint, in which people are forced to receive a pension in hryvnia. With the receipt of Russian passports and the recalculation of Russian pensions, this became irrelevant. Even the distribution of Ukrainian passports, by which one can travel to Europe without visas (the main conquest of the Euromaidan), did not work.

There have always been problems with water in these towns. Even in Soviet times, in some places the water was on schedule. And now Kiev could present this water as a gesture of goodwill - or an act of "soft power", if you like. No, they think something else. And either they simply exert tough and inexplicable pressure in this sensitive area (Crimea), or they bargain, as in the case of Luhansk.

It is worth recalling that the recent history of Gorlovka with the advancement of the Ukrainian trenches during the truce is also linked to the potential control of Ukraine over another water intake arch, coming from the same Popasna. And the Donetsk water intake and the filtering station have been a zone of clashes for years, and civilian repairmen who left Donetsk to repair equipment died after the Ukrainian shelling of the facility. Such forms of warfare, if you can call it that, are pressure on the civilian population.

There is one more aspect. Negotiations on such issues as water or payment for it are de facto being conducted between the Ukrainian side and the LPR. That is, the Kiev authorities are forced to recognize the existence of the Luhansk republican authorities “on the ground”. Talk on the phone. Take money from them. It’s unpleasant and painful, but you won’t do it for the money.

But let us recall that the disruption of the OSCE inspection two days ago in Shumy was caused by the absurd demands of the Ukrainian side to the representatives of the DPR to cut the republican stripes from the uniform (the three-color flag and the DPR inscription) and not in any other way use the mention or name of the Donetsk People's Republic and its armed forces. forces. In Kiev, this is how they understand their political position on the refusal of direct negotiations with the "separatists" and complete non-recognition of the physical existence of the LPR and DPR.

But then you need to decide - are you checkers or go? You are demanding millions of dollars from the LPR for water and are ready to take them, charging yourself with intermediary firms, but you want to cut the stripes off the form? And if from January next year there will be no need at all for receiving water with Popasna, how then is the Kiev administration going to observe the strange forms of relations it has invented?

There are, of course, the mechanisms of temporary mixed control commissions previously tested in the Caucasus, which solved purely everyday issues (including the same water), carefully avoiding mentioning strategic and political issues that are unsolved on earth. But Kiev is not ready to go for this either, although it would be a perfectly reasonable move even within the framework of the trilateral commission and the Minsk process.

The trouble is that the civilian population suffers from all this, and so everyone has endured. Through this zone in 2014-2015, Ukrainian paratroopers walked back and forth several times, leaving behind unforgettable memories. Now Kiev is using a purely humanitarian problem as a form of political self-assertion and banal income.

Evgeny Krutikov



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