Russian forces have restored a piece of Ukrainian infrastructure vital to the land bridge that Moscow wants to establish linking Russian territory to the Crimean Peninsula: a canal that supplies water from southern Ukraine to the peninsula, according to satellite images and a statement by the Kremlin's defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu.
For years, the 250-mile long Northern Crimean Canal had drained water from Ukraine's Dnipro River to the arid peninsula of Crimea. It was a marvel of engineering, dropping about an inch for every mile for the first half of its length to keep the water flowing, built by thousands of construction workers from across the Soviet Union.
After Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014, under President Vladimir V. Putin, all that changed.
Ukraine dammed the canal with bags of sand and clay to prevent the Russian-occupied peninsula from benefiting from the valuable freshwater. Instead of flowing to Crimea, the water in the canal was used to irrigate the melon fields and peach orchards of Ukraine's Kherson region, to Crimea s north.
Ukrainian officials said that cutting off the water was one of the few levers at their disposal to inflict pain on Moscow after the annexation without use of military force.