The Washington Post produced this map back in December to explain Ukraine’s protests. The Post explained the protests as the result of ethnic divisions, diversity not being a source of strength in Ukraine. Ethnic Ukrainians in the red sections resented the pro-Russian president and his policies. They wanted to look west and join the EU and NATO. He wanted to look east and join Russia’s Eurasian Union. Moscow also wants Ukraine in that union, not the EU or NATO. The brown section at the bottom is Crimea. Russia already controls that and Sunday’s vote stands to formalize its annexation to Russia. It’s majority Russian, and also home to Sevastopol, Russia’s sole warm-water navy base.
Putin bases the logic of his Crimea invasion on a need to protect the Russian majority who live there. They were under no actual threat from the Kiev government. Putin is reportedly massing troops along the Russia-Ukraine border, in the upper right corner of this map and down to the south in the hand-shaped area near Rostov, again ostensibly to protect the Russians who live in the yellow-brown striped zone on the Ukraine side of the border.
Ukraine Energy produced this map of the country’s energy deposits.
Let’s do a quick and dirty overlay of the energy map onto the ethnic division map.
The majority of Ukraine’s energy production fields just happen to lie in or near the region dominated by ethnic Russians whom Putin wants to “protect.”
Russia is one of the world’s top energy producers, and it dominates energy production in Eurasia. Ukraine is a major regional producer of coal, natural gas and oil. Most of Ukraine’s energy production zones are within easy reach of Russia. Russia’s economy depends on proceeds from its energy production. Energy production is Russia’s #1 export.
Let’s look at one more map. Chuck DeVore created it, and Josh Trevino posted it on Facebook. It’s a speculative look at paths the Russian military might be expected to take into Ukraine, based on where Putin is reportedly massing his forces and where the ethnic Russians live.
Ukraine’s eastern energy production zones would be among the first prizes that the Russians would capture. Putin could then be expected to consolidate his positions, check international reaction, and should the Ukraine counter militarily, use that as an excuse to resume offensive operations aimed at seizing the rest of Ukraine including its western energy production fields.