We’re hearing more about Ukraine these days. War gets our attention. As Americans, we have enjoyed generations without full-blown war on our soil. There has been terrorism, and some military actions, but no significant invasions.
Millions of people are affected by war, insurrection, or terrorism on an ongoing basis. I spent a few minutes thinking about where I knew there was war, now, in the world. I got to seven countries, then went to Wikipedia to get the tally of countries in war or insurrection. Hint, it’s a lot more than seven.
Ukraine being threatened by Russia feels more serious. It reminds Americans and Europeans of Hitler annexing countries near Germany on the grounds that they belong to Germany. One country (Austria), then part of another (the Sudetenland: that’s part of Czechoslovakia where there were a lot of Germans). Then the German army blitzkrieged (stormed through) Europe. Europeans have that more recent taste of war. World War II affected many civilian areas and civilian death tolls were high.
Russia’s military behavior has World War II parallels. In 2014, Russia invaded Crimea, where a large number of ethnic Russians live. Now, Russia is attacking Ukraine’s capital city. It’s much like Germany taking the Sudetenland, then invading the rest of Czechoslovakia. There’s no wonder why something that looks like the beginning of World War II scares the be-gee-bees out of us. World War II left 15,000,000 battle deaths and 45,000,000 civilian deaths.
Russia is invading Ukraine. What do you know about their history?
Ukraine was a Soviet Republic — part of the USSR — from 1922 until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Crimea was part of Ukraine (not Russia) starting in 1954. This animated map shows about 1000 years of moving borders. Keep your eye on the lower section of where “Kievan Rus” is in 1141. To the south of that, the light blue peninsula in the Black Sea is what is now Crimea.
In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. Crimea was part of Ukraine in 2014. This part of Ukraine is surrounded by the Black Sea, except for a small isthmus that connects it to Ukraine. Russia is east of it, but not connected by land. After this 2014 annexation, Russia was subject to economic sanctions by most of Europe and the United States.
Ukraine sits to the south of Russia. It has a thriving economy in its own right, even though it is a much smaller country than Russia. You may have seen this list on social media this week (I have, a number of times). It is pretty easy to see why Russia is missing the economic engine that is Ukraine.
- First in Europe in proven recoverable reserves of uranium ores
- Second place in Europe and tenth place in the world in terms of titanium ore reserves
- Second place in the world in terms of explored reserves of manganese ores (2.3 billion tonnes, or 12% of the world’s reserves)
- Second-largest iron ore reserves in the world (30 billion tonnes)
- Second place in Europe in terms of mercury ore reserves
- Third place in Europe (13th place in the world) in shale gas reserves (22 trillion cubic metres)
- Eighth place in the world in coal reserves (33.9 billion tonnes)
Ukraine agriculture ranking
- First in Europe in terms of arable land area
- First place in the world in exports of sunflowers and sunflower oil
- Third place in the world by the area of black soil (25% of world’s volume)
- Third-largest producer of potatoes in the world
- Fourth place in the world in barley production and fourth place in barley exports
- Fourth-largest rye producer in the world
- Fifth-largest producer and fourth-largest exporter of corn in the world
- Fifth place in the world in honey production (75,000 tonnes)
Fifth place in the world in wheat exports
Ukraine industry ranking
- Second-largest in Europe and seventh-largest in the world in terms of installed capacity of nuclear power plants
- Third-largest gas production and the fourth-largest gas market in Europe (with the fourth-largest natural gas pipeline system in the world, supplying 142.5 billion cubic metres of gas throughput capacity in the EU)
- Third-largest iron exporter in the world
- Fourth place in Europe and 13th in the world in terms of rail network length (21,700km)
- Third place in the world in clay exports
- Fifth place in the world in titanium exports
- Ninth place in the world for exports of ‘ores, slag and ash’
- 12th-largest steel producer in the world
- One of the world’s largest manufacturers of rocket launchers [source]
Now there’s war. How do you stay informed without stoking unnecessary anxiety?
Avoid inaccurate news. Avoid news flooding.
Whenever there is a crisis, news outlets suspend normal broadcasting to cover the crisis. They are then obligated to keep the information flowing, whether there is new information or not. This reporting is full of repetition, occasional anecdotal eye-witness accounts, and speculation about what is happening and what it means.
If you tend to be anxious, this is a recipe to be more anxious.
- Avoid overexposure to the news. Constant news flow doesn’t help you know more. It is psychologically wearing, too. Instead, read, watch, or listen to quality sources for limited time periods. Schedule when you are going to check the news, then stop checking the news at other times.
- Identify good news sources, generally, and also about a specific topic.
When it comes to Ukraine, here are some choices (adapted from this source):
- The Kyiv Independent
- The New Voice of Ukraine
News and analysis in English, Ukrainian, and Russian. Website here.
- Ukraine World
Not for breaking news. It is gathering first-hand accounts here.
- Kyiv Post
- Stand With Ukraine
With Ukraine is a community page that has been dedicated to sharing knowledge wrap-ups based on the ongoing situation. It is not a breaking news site; rather it is posts from people there, mostly in English Instagram page found here.
This Instagram account—link here — is showing international headlines, in English, about Ukraine.
Background knowledge, quick catch up:
- Kyiv Post article, “10 popular misconceptions about Ukraine debunked”
- Netflix’s documentary Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
- Podcast by Ukraine World on How Russia uses disinformation as an instrument of war