Ukraine’s new prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, has already stirred up controversy with his comments on providing water to Ukraine’s occupied, water-starved peninsula of Crimea.
Earlier, the prime minister stated that “the question of providing water to occupied Crimea is not a question of trading with the occupiers, and is not a question of some kind of business, it is a question of humanitarian responsibility...Ukrainians live there, and we won’t turn off the water for Ukrainians,” during a television program on Ukraine’s 1+1 television channel.
However, following an outcry of criticism, the prime minister clarified his position to state that Ukraine cannot provide water to the occupied peninsula so long as it is occupied by Russia, adding that Ukraine will not provide water to “industries and military assets.” In a later round of questioning, the prime minister noted that Ukraine will “supply water for agricultural needs and for drinking, in situations of necessity or humanitarian threats to Ukrainians...This is our debt to our Ukrainian [citizens.]...We’re not talking about industrial water supplies, we’re talking about our responsibility to the Ukrainians in Crimea.”
READ MORE: Cut Off: Occupied Crimea is Drying Out
Prior statements by MPs from the ruling party, Servant of the People, have likewise indicated a willingness to provide water to Russia-occupied Crimea, though the MPs later walked back their words following criticism. At the same time, Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, has said that Ukraine cannot provide water to occupied Crimea.