Forest Fires Increased Fivefold in Crimea

Canan Kevser
13 May 2020, 15:18
Canan Kevser
13 May 2020, 15:18

Because of drought in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, forest fires broke out in the first four months of 2020 increased fivefold comparing to the same period of last year.

According to Grigoriy Prokopov, a lecturer at the Tavriya Academy Geoecology Department, this year is enduring considerably dry. " Dried grass in the forest and steppe areas is bursting into flames, and the fire is spreading quickly because of the wind. Citizens' behaviour is worsening the situation. Forest fires mainly breaking out from fires light by people. The issue is remaining despite the quarantine measures," said lecturer of the so-called Crimean Federal University which established by the Russian administration in the peninsula after the occupation.

The expert stated that the trees in the forest are weakening by fires and therefore becoming more vulnerable to wood fungus, bark beetles, and other bugs. Also, he stated that many species are dying because of the forest fires. “Birds such as skylarks, demoiselle cranes, bustards are dying. Besides, the nutrition source of birds such as insects, rodents and reptiles are also dying in fires,” asserted Grigoriy Prokopov.

According to the statement made by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the occupying state, Russian Federation, a total of 1,417 forest fires have seen in Crimea since the beginning of the year. Ministry noted that the vast majority of these fires were caused by flaring out of dried plants and litter.

Crimea's Dry-Up

After Russia cut Crimea off from the rest of Ukraine by seizing control of the Black Sea peninsula in 2014, Kyiv cut off the water supply to Crimea with a grand-scale equivalent of a twist of the wrist: It shut down a 400-kilometre canal whose construction decades ago had been hailed as a Soviet feat of man mastering nature.

Promising to care for the 2 million-plus Crimean residents his country was now claiming as its own, at the cost of international condemnation and Western sanctions imposed in response to the land grab, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to fix the peninsula’s water problem — a flaw in the crown jewel of his campaign to portray himself as a “gatherer of lands.”

But it’s not fixed, and Crimea — six years after the Russian takeover — faces severe water shortages.

The dry-up has triggered migration from arid areas, largely in the north and east, that experts direly warn face the threat of desertification. Agriculture on the peninsula is in retreat as water-intense crops like rice are abandoned. A mysterious chemical-plant accident in the northern part of the peninsula in 2018 was blamed on the water crisis.

As they scramble for alternative sources with few options at hand, Crimea and its Moscow overlords depend largely on two things they cannot control to meet the peninsula’s freshwater needs: rain and snow.