Il contemple, ô race étrange!
A ses pieds le genre humain
Se ruant, le fer en main,
Dans le sang et dans la fange
Où brille l’ardent métal!..
Où brille l’ardent métal!..
– Le veau d’or est toujours debout
Most wars in the world have been and unfortunately are, fought for resources and financial gain. Everything else is nothing more than tinsel or a “cover operation.” In modern history, only the Arab-Israeli conflict is based on ideological and religious dogmas to a greater extent than economic or resource reasons.
Did Putin unleash a war in Ukraine solely for ideological purposes? Is the role of the Russian-speaking population on the territory of Ukraine vital to him, and is he also driven by the desire to go down in history as a “unifier of Russian lands”? Or is it all just another “cover operation”? Even though the Russian army and mercenaries were united under the banner of “Russian jihad” against civilizational opponents. The goals of this “holy war” are absolutely prosaic if we discard all the tinsel with which the leadership of the Russian Federation is so diligently covering up the war in Ukraine.
Like any resource-based empire, Russia cannot maintain its existence without resource-based colonies. They now call them republics or autonomous regions of the Russian Federation. In fact, without these raw material appendages, Russia is insolvent and incapacitated on the world stage. Since in the absence of high-tech production, the filling of the country’s budget directly depends on the extraction of minerals, and rare earth metals, which are exported or are involved in producing export materials (in particular metals).
So what could be the interest of a relatively small Ukraine to such a large Russia in the format of a “war for raw materials” and not, as the Russian dictator declares, an “ideological war with the West”?
The subsoil of Ukraine includes a concentration of about a hundred types of minerals, the market value of which is estimated by experts at 7.5 trillion US dollars. In total, the mineral resource base of Ukraine consists of 20,000 deposits and ore occurrences, of which 7,800 have been explored, and only 3,300 are being developed.
Analysts and scientists claim that Ukraine is one-sidedly developing its raw material potential. Ukraine has significant reserves of non-ferrous and rare earth metals, including unique deposits of beryllium, zirconium, and tantalum, a complex of phosphoric rare earth and rare metal ores.
In 2014, it was not clear to many military analysts why the small city of Sloviansk (Donetsk region) became the first point of the invasion of Russian sabotage groups in Ukraine. In this city, no defense enterprises, military units, or other military targets could justify the attack. However, the city is located in the heart of the Yuzivska project area, where deposits of natural gas in tight sandstones, called shale gas, are concentrated. The giant Yuzivska shale gas field covers part of the territory of the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions.
Experts note that shale gas reserves in the Yuzivska area can radically change the energy sector in Ukraine and Europe.
According to the latest confirmed open data, this is 10 trillion m3. For comparison, according to British Petroleum research, Russia has deposits of 38 trillion m3 of gas.
In addition, the Olesskoye field (in the west of Ukraine) is partially explored in Ukraine, according to independent geologists’ forecasts – up to 5 trillion m3 of gas.
Before Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, the Ukrainian government found investors to develop the Yuzovsky field in the form of Shell and Chevron companies.
Gilles Léricole of the French state oceanographic group thinks it’s clear that the annexation of Crimea (which started the Russian invasion of Ukraine) was for shelf resources.
Experts from companies such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell have already explored the Black Sea shelf. Exact estimates were not given. However, according to some experts, the local resources can be comparable to those concentrated in the North Sea, the source of the oil and gas wealth of Norway and Great Britain.
Ukraine’s industrial reserves of manganese ores are concentrated in the world’s largest Nikopol manganese ore basin (Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions). These reserves are located in several deposits (Marganetskoye, Zelenodolskoye, Ordzhonikidzevskoye, and Tokmakskoye). Their total approved reserves are 2 426.1 million tons.
Suppose you closely follow the topography of the war in Ukraine. In that case, you are probably surprised by such a striking coincidence of mineral deposits with settlements and regions of Ukraine in which the most fierce battles are being waged. Some of these territories are occupied and “annexed” by Putin to the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, in Russia, auditors noted that in 2018-2020 more than a third of strategic types of mineral raw materials and more than 60% of scarce types of minerals were imported. According to experts, the needs of the Russian economy in manganese, chromium, titanium, and lithium were fully met through imports.
Lithium is a key performance component in batteries used in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. The proven reserves of lithium in Ukraine are the largest in Europe. The value and importance of lithium has increased as countries have recently focused on producing electric vehicles. The price of lithium, which was $13,154 per ton as of August 31, 2021, rose to $59,928 by August 31, 2022.
Russia does not mine lithium raw materials. It consumes lithium carbonate mainly from Chile, Argentina, China, and Bolivia. At the moment, China itself has started a severe shortage of lithium. And after the suspension of deliveries from Chile and Argentina, Russia was left with the opportunity to receive raw materials only from Bolivia. China is also having difficulty selling its lithium overseas. Some US and Canadian legal innovations strictly restrict the import of these materials from China and prevent Chinese companies from cooperating with companies developing lithium deposits in Canada and the USA.
In turn, through PMC Wagner’s hands, Russia has long been seizing deposits of various minerals in Africa. Recently, the United States accused the Wagner PMC of exploiting the natural resources of the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and other territories. Lately, this money has been used to finance the Russian Federation’s military operations. A statement on this subject was made on Thursday, October 6, by United States Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Colleagues, secondly, one of the most immediate and growing concerns in Africa is the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group’s strategy of exploiting the natural resources of the Central African Republic, Mali, and Sudan, as well as other countries. These actions are thoroughly documented and irrefutable. And we know these ill-gotten gains are used to fund Moscow’s war machine in Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine. And rather than being a transparent partner and improving security, Wagner exploits client States who pay for their heavy-handed security services in gold, diamonds, timber, and other natural resources — this is part of Wagner Group’s business model.
Mining experts say that the USA imports up to 80% of rare earth metals from China. So Ukraine could benefit from growing nervousness in Washington over supplies from China. Rare earth metals are essential for producing various goods, from smartphones to fighter jets.
“China is exploring whether it could harm US defense contractors by limiting the supply of rare earth minerals critical to the industry,” – the Financial Times reported.
Tantalum, beryllium, zirconium, and others
The Perzhanskoye beryllium deposit, in terms of its characteristics, is one of the best in the world. Located in the Olevsky district of the Zhytomyr region, in the interfluve of the Perga and Ubort rivers. According to the Institute of Geological Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, along with beryllium, this deposit contains tantalum, niobium, zirconium, tin, molybdenum, lithium, zinc, silver, fluorine, and some minerals. This region bordering Belarus has a constant concentration of Russian troops on the other side of the cordon.
Tantalum is resistant to acids and corrosion. Therefore it is used as an additive to steels used for the manufacture of thin-walled and complex-shaped products, as a structural material in the chemical industry, in the manufacture of acids, as a catalyst for the production of rubber and durable glasses, for soldering contacts in electronics.
An alloy of tungsten and tantalum can withstand temperatures up to 2500 ° C, so it is used in critical products in the aerospace industry. Similarly, tantalum capacitors are used in the defense industry to make radars and transmitters because of their chemical resistance.
Thus, it is possible that under the guise of the “Russian world” Putin unleashed the worst war in Europe in the last 80 years simply because of the lack of valuable minerals. Tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers killed in this war are unimportant to Putin in his battle for the raw materials his primitive state desperately needs. Brought up by the laws of St. Petersburg streets and KGBists, he only knows how to rob and kill, hiding behind fake principles and ideals that mean nothing to him. His only faith is personal enrichment.