Why We Fight: US Openly Salivates Over Ukraine's Vast Untapped Titanium Reserves
12:20 GMT 29.01.2023 (Updated: 13:22 GMT 29.01.2023)
The US and its allies set the stage for the Ukraine crisis by sponsoring the Maidan coup in 2014, which sparked a conflict in Donbass and escalated into a full-blown confrontation involving Moscow last February. One heavily underreported facet of the West’s Ukraine policy revolves around Kiev’s immense mineral wealth.
Ukraine could provide the United States and its allies with the titanium they need to build the fighter jets, warships, tanks, missiles, and other weapons required to confront Russia and China, sources on Capitol Hill with ties to the military-industrial complex have told US media.
“Ukraine has really significant deposits of rare earth minerals, and if we play our cards right could actually be a really attractive alternative to Russian and Chinese sources, which is where a lot of dependency currently is,” one anonymous congressional staffer said. “As there are increasing debates throughout the West about why it’s in our interest to keep supporting Ukraine, I think this is one of the arguments that you’re going to start hearing more,” the person said.
Titanium is also a “key vulnerability” for the US, a source with knowledge of the US defense sector said. “We’re talking about our ability to produce more planes, we’re talking about our ability to produce munitions. They all rely on titanium, and we’ve allowed ourselves to grow reliant on foreign suppliers for these things. Russia has previously been one of those primary suppliers,” they added.
The US depends on imports for over 90 percent of its iron ore, and does not maintain titanium in its National Defense Stockpile.
23 December 2022, 04:15 GMT
A “nascent effort” is said to now be underway to study, develop, and use Ukraine’s “vast resources” of titanium and other mineral wealth. The Eastern European country is one of only a handful of nations in the world capable of producing vast quantities of titanium sponge – the basis for the metal – with others including China, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kazakhstan. India also has a fledgling titanium sponge industry, although its production is measured in hundreds of tons, not thousands or tens of thousands required to satiate the West’s thirst. In addition to weaponry, vast quantities of titanium are required for the production of commercial aircraft, prosthetics, certain paints, surgical tools, telecommunications equipment, and more.
Ukrainian government officials are openly touting their interest in becoming a resource colony of the West.
“We today have titanium and we have lithium, both are in great demand and they’re going to be even more in demand in the future,” Oleg Ustenko, advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said. “My understanding is that the majority of these deposits are not even tapped. The business opportunities in this sector are really huge…We do not see our role only within the EU, but also in terms of the world supply. I do believe that it’s a really important role which might be played by Ukraine. But again, for that, we need to make sure we are in postwar conditions,” the aide stressed.
While US officials salivate over Ukraine’s minerals, US media also pointed to the implications of Moscow getting its hands on these resources, and the “boost” to Russia’s global influence that would be afforded by control over the “increasingly strategic resource.”
23 September 2022, 19:41 GMT
The battle for Ukraine’s titanium has come up repeatedly in discussions by US business outlets and Washington-based think tanks in recent months. Last September, the Atlanticist Center for European Policy Analysis think tank proposed developing long-term contracts with Ukrainian suppliers to "create an enduring material foundation under the process by which Ukraine could become more closely integrated with the West, in terms of both defense and economics."
Titanium is only one of dozens of natural resources which Ukraine has been amply blessed with, and which Western interests are looking to get their hands on. Others include the country’s vast chernozem (lit. "black soil") fields – highly fertile agricultural land rich in humus, phosphorous, and ammonia compounds, plus other metals like iron ore, coal, and uranium.
US hedge fund giant BlackRock signed a memorandum of understanding with Ukraine’s Economy Ministry on playing an "advisory role" in the country’s reconstruction in November. Last month, President Volodymyr Zelensky and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink discussed “channeling investment into the most relevant and impactful sectors of the Ukrainian economy.”
Zelensky has a long history of working with Black Rock – a major holder of Ukrainian sovereign debt, and other foreign investors and global banking and financial institutions. In 2020, Ukraine’s parliament moved to partially lift a decades-old moratorium on the sale of Ukraine’s chernozem-rich farmland, paving the way for foreigners to potentially be able to buy the land outright instead of leasing it, pending a national referendum. The lifting of the land sale moratorium has been a key condition of multi-billion dollar International Monetary Fund "development loans" to Kiev.
26 January 2023, 06:05 GMT
Last week, Zelensky personally thanked BlackRock, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs for their support for Ukraine’s war effort, as well as the US military-industrial complex. “Everyone can become a big business by working with Ukraine in all sectors from weapons and defense to construction, from communication to agriculture, from transport to IT, from banks to medicine. And I believe that freedom must always win,” he said.