The crisis continuing to develop in and around Ukraine is a multilayered creature.
The past week has seen tensions escalating in eastern Ukraine, as well as a resumption of low intensity fighting there. Ukrainian forces and Russian-supported separatists have been involved in a series of engagements in violation of the ceasefire. Meanwhile, on the other side of the border a sizeable buildup of Russian land forces continues. Another buildup of forces is also going on in Crimea, which could very well become the centerpiece of the emerging crisis. The Ukrainian government has sounded the alarm over the buildup and some NATO nations have started to take notice of the situation around the border and respond.
NATO has insisted that Russia is engaged in efforts to undermine efforts to reduce the tension in eastern Ukraine. US European Command has raised the alert level of US forces in Europe in response to developments in the east. On Friday, US President Joe Biden spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and affirmed the US commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Apparently, a new buildup of forces is now going on along Ukraine’s northern borders with Russia, and according to certain sources, Belarus as well. If these reports are accurate it all but confirms that Russia is moving to apply overwhelming physical pressure on the Ukrainian government, at the very least. It is obvious what the worst-case scenario would be in this instance.
Finally, there is Crimea. The peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 is in the throes of a water crisis at present. For months now, cities and towns in Crimea have been rationing water. Despite being surrounded on three sides by water, Crimea has always had to rely on outside sources for clean water. The Northern Crimea Canal was completed in 1971 and diverted water to Crimea from a reservoir in southern Ukraine. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian officials wasted little time in blocking the canal, which was providing 85% of the peninsula’s drinking water at the time. The lack of water has been affected by the large numbers of Russian citizens relocating to Crimea since 2014. At present, the water situation is becoming critical and could play a role in Russia’s strategic planning and political plans in the coming weeks ahead.