Trillion dollar stake. The war could leave Ukraine

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The war could leave Ukraine without a third of its deposits. The value of these deposits exceeds 12.4 trillion dollars. The figure is more than impressive.

Since invading Ukraine, Russia has expanded its control over a significant part of Ukrainian deposits, considered among the “richest mineral resources” in Europe, writes the American newspaper The Washington Post, according to which Moscow has under its control metal deposits and Ukrainian minerals worth at least $12.4 trillion.

As its troops advance, Russia is depriving Ukraine of the backbone of the country’s economy – its natural resources. During the nearly six months of war, Moscow extended its control over some of the “richest land in Europe”.

Although Ukraine is generally seen as an agricultural powerhouse, it is home to 117 of the world’s 120 most-used minerals and metals, as well as fossil fuel deposits. It is home to the world’s largest reserves of titanium and iron ore, pure lithium and coal reserves. Together, these reserves are estimated at tens of billions of dollars.

The problem is that much of these coal deposits, which have fueled Ukraine’s steel industry for decades, are concentrated in the east of the country, where Putin’s troops have advanced heavily. Now they are under Moscow’s control, along with significant volumes of other valuable energy and mineral resources “used to make everything from airplane parts to smartphones.”

An analysis conducted for the Washington Post by the Canadian company SecDev showed that Russia currently controls at least $12.4 trillion worth of Ukrainian metal and mineral deposits. Specifically, in addition to 63% of the country’s coal deposits, Moscow has seized 11% of its oil reserves, 20% of its natural gas reserves, 42% of its metals and 33% of its deposits of rare earths and other essential minerals , including lithium.

According to Roman Opimakh, director general of the Ukrainian Geological Service, the government is still assessing the impact of the conflict on the country’s resources, but given that most of Ukraine’s raw materials are in the east and south, the value of lost reserves will likely exceed the amount mentioned in the analysis.

The loss of these resources undermined Ukraine’s economy, forcing Kiev to import coal. If the seized Ukrainian territories become part of Russia, Kiev would permanently lose access to nearly two-thirds of its deposits, according to The Washington Post. Ukraine would also lose many other reserves, including natural gas, oil and rare earth minerals.

“The most pessimistic scenario is that Ukraine loses land, ceases to have a strong resource-based economy and looks more like one of the Baltic states, that is, a country unable to maintain its industrial economy,” said Stanislav Zinchenko, the head to the economic think tank GMK, based in Kyiv.

However, much of the oil and natural gas reserves remain under Ukrainian control. But for Western Europe, the expansion of Russia’s control over the Ukrainian territory is equivalent to a “tactical failure”, the American daily believes.

The blow given to Ukraine is all the more significant as Russia seizes control including over the most important Ukrainian ports. If they end up totally in Moscow’s hands, Kiev would have to build a completely new infrastructure for exports, estimates the cited source.