Russia accused of sabotaging Ukraine water pipe to Mykolaiv

For six months, homes in Ukraine’s southern coastal city of Mykolaiv have been without clean drinking water.

Military and United Nations (UN) experts have told a BBC investigation they 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.

Queuing in the street in Mykolaiv to collect clean drinking water was dangerous as the city was close to the front line and was often shelled. Since Russia’s invasion, it has remained under Ukrainian control.

“You are standing in line. It’s terribly scary to go out, God forbid something will fly in now,” says Anya, a 36-year-old mother who fled to Mykolaiv from the neighbouring Kherson region under Russian occupation.

Residents like Anya, who also cares for four other members of her family, do have access to what is called technical water in their homes, but it can’t be used for drinking or cooking.

Even washing in it inflames their skin. “It is really very salty. It has a brown, greenish colour,” she says.

These are the conditions that residents have had to endure for six months after the water supply to the city was cut off.

Evidence collected by the BBC points to this being a deliberate act by Russian forces.

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.

The BBC has analysed satellite and social media pictures which back up this claim.We obtained the satellite image below, which multiple sources confirm shows the same location as the Ukrainian news outlet’s photos.

It reveals that the pipeline was damaged at its most fragile point – where it comes to the surface from beneath the ground. -BBC

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