MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. There can be no bargaining over Crimea, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, when asked if Moscow could return control over the Russian-Ukrainian border in Donbass to Kiev to make sure that Ukraine resumed water supplies to Crimea.
Peskov pointed out that Crimea was a Russian region where water was supplied in accordance with development programs. "If there are any initiatives concerning additional water supplies, perhaps commercial ones, they could be considered," the Kremlin spokesman added.
According to Peskov, the situation in Donbass was Ukraine’s domestic affair. "We are doing our best to facilitate efforts to resolve [the conflict]," he noted, adding that Kiev needed to discuss the border issue with the self-proclaimed Donbass republics. "As of now, one can assume with a high degree of certainty that they will not agree to change the essence of the Minsk Agreements signed by their leaders," Peskov emphasized.
Ukrainian lawmaker David Arakhamiya, a member of the presidential faction, suggested on Tuesday that Ukraine should establish water supplies to Crimea in return for control over the border with Russia in Donbass. However, Ukraine’s new Presidential Chief of Staff Andrei Yermak said later that he had "never discussed water supplies to Crimea with Russian officials during talks on Donbass." He added that Arakhamiya had only expressed his personal opinion.
After Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in a coup in February 2014, mass protests erupted in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. On March 11, 2014, Crimea’s Supreme Council and Sevastopol City Council adopted a declaration of independence.
On March 16, 2014, Crimean authorities held a referendum on reuniting with Russia. Over 80% of voters participated in the plebiscite, most of them supporting the idea (96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in the city of Sevastopol).
On March 18, President Vladimir Putin signed the treaty on Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the Federal Assembly (parliament) approved the document on March 21. However, Kiev has so far refused to acknowledge Crimea as part of Russia.
In May 2018, Ukraine stopped supplying water to Crimea through the North Crimean Canal built in 1961-71.