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Resources in the Conflict Zones of Ukraine

Ukraine and region in a land cover map.
Click map to enlarge.
Ukraine's rebel-held Donbass region, rich in coal deposits, is the locus of a Russian-backed separatist conflict.
March 4, 2015 - A blast at the Zasyadko coal mine in the Donetsk province of eastern Ukraine killed 33 miners today. Officials suspected a gas explosion from within the mine caused the tragedy rather than any war-related incident.

The Zasyadko has been the site of several fatal mine accident. One in November 2007 killed more than 100 miners.

The mine has been a significant producer for Ukraine, yielding 1.4 million metric tons as recently as 2013.

Feb. 24, 2015 - Ukraine faced a cut-off of natural gas from Russia over a payment dispute.

Ukraine said that it has prepaid for natural gas through March 31 in accordance with an October 2014 agreement. Russia's Gazprom, however said, not all prepayments had been made on time.

Among the issues in the dispute is disagreement over payment for natural gas provided to rebel-held regions in eastern Ukraine. Gazprom has been providing gas to rebels and has said Ukraine must pay for it.

Feb. 23, 2015 - Fighting continued in the contested eastern regions of Ukraine, with the Kiev government refusing to remove heavy guns in the face of continued fighting. Kiev said that two of its soldiers had been killed by gunfire from the rebel side; the rebels said the government had also violated the ceasefire.

The February 12 truce between the government of Ukraine and Moscow-back rebels has been violated and frayed, with armed rebels taking the railway hub town of Debaltseve near the boundary of the Donetsk and Luhanks oblasts.

After that advance, fighting calmed and prisoners were exchanged. But the new deaths put the future of the ceasefire in doubt.

Germany, which joined France and other nations, in calling for and supporting the ceasefire negotiations of the Feb. 12 Minsk agreement, Monday expressed concern over the absence of a comprehensive ceasefire.

Coal Production
Ukraine reported that its coal production has fell by 51 percent in January compared to the same month in 2014.

Coal production was 3.421 million tonnes in January 2015, said the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry. It had fallen by 3.590 million tonnes during the year of civil war. In the conflict zones Donetsk coal production was 1.178 million tonnes, down 62.9 percent, and Luhansk produced 426,700 tonnes, down 80.2 percent from January 2014.

Ukraine imported 1.4 million tonnes of coal in January, the government said.

Electricity Costs
About 20 electricity plants have been idled due to coal shortages. Ukrenergo, the state energy firm said. The reserves at these plants fell from 4 million tonnes a year ago to 1.39 million tonnes.

Ukraine Resource Conflict Background

Natural gas took the center of attention during Ukraine's political crisis in the winter of 2013-2014. However Ukraine is rich in other important resources as well.

An examination of the coal- and grain-producing regions show that eastern Ukraine, the area in dispute, is home to much of the country's natural wealth.

Resources in the Region of Conflict

On April 23 Ukraine announced it would be stepping up its security operations in eastern provinces. There many pro-Russian supporters are calling for secession from Ukraine and annexation by Russia.

In addition to political sentiment, the area is full of economic resources such as coal and highly-productive wheat and corn fields. Ukraine would stand to lose billions of dollars worth of reserves and revenue and Russia would stand to gain them if borders were redrawn.

Donetsk: A Rebel Stronghold and a Coal Province

Donetsk was founded in 1869 along the Kalmius River in east Ukraine by a Welshman who took advantage of the vast coal deposits in the area. Factories grew in response to the ready supply of coal, and Stalin enlarged industrial production there in the 1930's.

Many Russians moved, or were moved, there. As such when the Moscow-leaning government in Kiev fell in February, 2014, to a pro-western faction, Russian-speakers in Donetsk joined others in eastern Ukraine to follow Crimea in its secession from Ukraine.

In July 2014 the Kiev government launched an offensive to retake the city. The winner of the battle will control a major resource hub for the region.

Ukrainian Coal

The pro-Russian insurrection in the eastern provinces sits directly atop a major coal deposit. The Donetsk basin in Ukraine lies under some of the towns, such as Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Russian forces have taken over Ukrainian government buildings.

Ukrainian Agriculture

Ukraine and surrounding areas has long been called the "Bread Basket" of Russia or the USSR, with its southeastern steppes providing a fertile topography for wheat. But Ukraine is also a major corn exporter as well.

The maps below display the regional distribution of Ukraine's major resources.

Maps of Ukraine's Resources

Natural Gas fields and Pipelines

Map of Ukraine

Coal Deposits of Ukraine

Map of Ukraine
Source: US EPA

Wheat in Ukraine

Map of Ukraine
Source: USDA

Corn Belt of Ukraine

Map of Ukraine
Source: USDA

Map of Ukraine