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International water issues
Some agreements have been signed for the cooperation in the field of protection and use of transboundary rivers between the Russian Federation and bordering countries (ECE, 2009):
- Agreement between the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan concerning the Joint use and protection of transboundary waters (1992). The Joint Russian Federation-Kazakhstan Commission acts on the basis of this Agreement of 1992, and covers the rivers Irtysh, Ishim, Tobol, Ural, Bolshoy Uzen and Maliy Uzen. In 1997 the validity of the agreement was extended to 2002, and further extended for another five years to 2006.
- Agreement between the Russian Federation and Ukraine concerning Joint use and protection of transboundary waters (1992).
- Agreement between the Russian Federation and China concerning Protection, regulation and reproduction of living water resources in frontier waters of Amur and Ussury rivers (1994).
- Agreement between Estonia and Russian Federation on the Conservation and use of fish resources in lake Peipus, lake Lämmijärv and lake Pihkva (1994). The Russian-Estonian Intergovernmental Commission on Fisheries acts on the basis of this agreement.
- Agreement between the Russian Federation and Mongolia on the Protection and use of transboundary waters (1995).
- Agreement between the Russian Federation and China concerning Guidance of joint economic use of separate islands and surrounding water areas in frontier rivers (1997).
- Agreement between Estonia and Russian Federation on the Protection and sustainable use of transboundary watercourses (1997). The Agreement explicitly indicates that it applies to transboundary waters of the Narva river basin, including lake Peipus. The Joint Russian-Estonian Commission was established based on this agreement.
- Agreement between the Russian Federation and Belarus concerning Cooperation in protection and rational use of transboundary waters (2002).
- Agreement on inter-institutional cooperation signed by the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation, Lithuania and Belarus in the field of monitoring and exchange of data on the status of transboundary surface water bodies (2003).
- A draft agreement between Latvia, Belarus and the Russian Federation on the Western Dvina/Daugava river basin, establishing a joint commission, was finalized in 2003. The Latvian government approved the draft but it was not signed in 2003 as the Russian Federation and Belarus postponed the final decision several times due to various reasons. After Latvia joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, water quality became a topic of shared responsibility between the Member States and the EU. Therefore, any international agreement on water management between an EU Member State and a non-Member State requires the EU as a Contracting Party. Cooperation agreements were on the list of topics to be discussed during high-level meetings of the EU and the Russian Federation; however, this has not led to renewal of the negotiations concerning river basin management agreement.
- Agreement between the Russian Federation and China concerning Rational use and protection of transboundary waters (2008).
- Agreement on joint use and protection of transboundary water bodies between the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan (2010).
- The Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are exploring the possibility of diverting the Ob and Irtysh rivers through a canal from Siberia, across Kazakhstan, to Uzbekistan. In theory, the project would solve the problem of the limited water resources available to Uzbekistan. The project would also enable the Russian Federation to play a greater role in the region and especially in Uzbekistan.
- The governments of Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Belarus, and the European Commission have initiated the preparation of an agreement on cooperation in the use and protection of water bodies within the Nemunas River Basins Distric. A draft agreement has been drawn up but has not been signed yet. There have been no measures foreseen for Poland and Latvia because the part of the Nemunas RBD in Poland constitutes only 287 km2 (the upstream reaches of the rivers with no significant pressures), and the part of the RBD in Latvia constitutes only 100 km2 (the upstream reaches of the rivers with no significant pressures) and the results of water quality monitoring showed that the ecological status of the rivers along the Polish and Latvian border were good.