Russia Destroyed Clean Drinking Water Supply To Ukraine


  • For six months, homes in Ukraine’s southern coastal city of Mykolaiv have been without clean drinking water.
  • Military and UN experts believe Russian forces deliberately cut off the water supply last April.
  • Satellite imagery and data suggest the pipeline to the city was deliberately destroyed while under Russian control.

Destroying resources vital for civilian life is widely regarded as violations of international humanitarian law. But in recent weeks Russia has further targeted Ukraine’s power and water infrastructure, prompting shortages across the country.

Pipeline Destroyed

In April this year, a Ukrainian news outlet published the above images which it says show damage caused by Russian forces to Mykolaiv’s only water supply pipeline. Satellite imagery reveals that the pipeline was damaged at its most fragile point – where it comes to the surface from beneath the ground. Analysis of the topography of the area indicates the water from the leak should have flowed south of the pipeline. Four tanks can be seen close to the pipe in the image below, at a time when the governor of Mykolaiv, Vitaly Kim, confirmed  that the area was under Russian control. He says plans had been made to repair the pipeline but they couldn’t go ahead as it was “an active military position”.

Use Of Explosives

Satellite photos and the open source images of the pipe were shown to a security expert to assess if it was damaged by random shelling or intentional sabotage. Chris Cobb Smith, a military forensics expert who served in the British Army as an artillery officer for over 20 years and spent three years as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq, said: “The chance that this was the result of one stray round is infinitesimal, and extremely unlikely that it was a result of an intended indirect fire strike.” He doesn’t believe it was caused by shells fired by tanks, as there are no tell-tale craters nearby.

Violation Of Human Law

That two separate points on the same pipeline have been damaged in ways that are consistent with sabotage points to occupying Russian forces deliberately cutting off the water supply to Mykolaiv. A UN expert, speaking anonymously because of having no authorisation to talk publicly on the subject, says the Mykolaiv water pipeline would be classified within the specially protected category of “objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population” under international humanitarian law, making any sabotage of it illegal.

Marco Sassòli, professor of humanitarian law at Geneva University, who was part of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism mission of experts sent to Ukraine to report on humanitarian violations following the Russian invasion, agrees: “This certainly shows a violation of international humanitarian law. Destruction of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population is prohibited.”

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Source: BBC



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