The Militarization of Crimea by Russia is Dangerous for the Natural Systems of the Region – Bariiev

November 9, 2020

In an interview with Krym Realii, Eskender Bariiev, Сhairman of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center (CTRC) and member of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, stated that the challenges of the militarization of Crimea by Russia are dangerous both for the indigenous peoples of Crimea and for various natural systems of the region. Bariiev noted that the CTRC continues to pay close attention to this problem.

"The challenges of the militarization of Crimea by Russia are dangerous both for the indigenous peoples of Crimea and various natural systems of the region. The uncontrolled deployment of nuclear facilities and materials, weapons systems, including aircraft and missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, updating storage of nuclear weapons of the Soviet period near Sevastopol and Feodosia – all this can lead to pollution of the sea with radionuclides, rocket fuel, oil products of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia. Uncontrolled massive extraction of natural resources for the needs of militarization, industry, and construction (namely sand and other materials in Crimea, in inland waters, and on the continental shelf of the Black and Azov Seas) leads to depletion and pollution of water resources. It changes in the coastline, currents, and biological systems of the seabed, including threats to the Kalamita and Karkinit bays' unique wetlands, Donuzl Bay, Bakalska spit, and Lebedyni Islands, as well as for the Small Philophoric Field of Zernov.

Pollution of the marine environment occurs due to systemic military exercises in the Kerch Strait, the waters of  Sevastopol, Donuzlav and Sivash bays," he said.

Bariiev mentioned the irrational, uncontrolled, and unjustified mass production for the needs of the armed forces, industry, and construction of non-renewable reserves of artesian water, the mismanagement of water use from existing underground and surface sources, including the degradation of reservoirs and water distribution systems, and the ill-conceived transfer of natural watercourses. He emphasized that Russia's de facto authorities' conduct harms to the entire environment of Crimea and leads to salinization and drying out of the peninsula's ecosystems.

"It is important to note that the CTRC sent an environmental report (The Impact of the Irrational Policy of the Occupation Authorities of Russia on the Water Balance of Crimea) to OHCHR, the embassies of UN member states in Ukraine, and other relevant international organizations. The organizations sent recommendations for the UN General Assembly Resolution to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The international community and relevant international organizations must demand from Russia to stop unjustified pollution of the air, land, water, and adjacent sea areas within the framework of the militarization and nuclearization of the peninsula and the uncontrolled activities of the chemical industry in the North of Crimea," he explained.

The Head of the Board of the CTRC added that it is necessary to demand the following:

To carry out the extraction of artesian water in Crimea exclusively to meet the population's basic needs and, if there are no other resources, to optimize economic activities in Crimea.

To stop artificially increasing the demand for water use in Crimea through water-intensive enterprises' operation, illegal mass resettlement of citizens of the Russian Federation to Crimea, and the deployment and expansion of military bases in Crimea.

To rationalize the reservoirs and water distribution systems of the peninsula.

To stop the destruction of unique natural sights of Crimea.

To adhere to the indigenous peoples' rights, particularly the Crimean Tatar people, to traditional employment of natural resources and preservation of natural monuments, landscapes, and ecosystems that the indigenous peoples have a special connection with.

"Failure to comply with these requirements by the Russian Federation will be an additional factor for the consideration of the crimes in the occupied Crimea in the international courts and other competent international bodies, as well as the basis for a new sanctions policy against the aggressor country," Bariiev said.