And the blood of the innocent continues to flow.

Session nr 2 of March 17, 2024 –English translation -  original in French.

Location: Mezzaverde in Belgium

Comments from Wivine in and after the Reporterre article.

Survey — Mines and metals.

Raw materials

A hidden issue of the war in Ukraine.

Article from Reporterre – French independent Ecology Media

December 9, 2022.

The monopolization of raw materials buried under Ukrainian soil is at the root of a conflict where the voices of national and industrial powers take precedence over those of the Ukrainians.

Titanium, oil, iron, gas, manganese... Control of fossil resources and minerals buried in Ukrainian territory is at the heart of the conflict. And takes priority over the environment and the interests of the populations.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, begun in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and Donbass, is the sad projection of the new national identity shaped by Vladimir Putin since his coming to power, militarist, expansionist and anti-Western.

Galia Ackerman brilliantly described in Le Régiment immortel (ed. Premier Parallčle, 2019) this policy which cemented Russian society around a nostalgic messianism of Great Russia, of which Ukraine would be an integral part.

Note Wivine: I think this is a Western subjective view that has crept in here, in which some important details from the near past of Western policy in Ukraine have been left out to label Russia as the aggressor, that is to say “the bad one”. However, this does not change the facts. It changes the perception of citizens, who tend to view everything and everyone in terms of “good and bad” or “we are the good guys and the others are the bad guys. Whatever good people do is always acceptable.”

It’s an old trick, which still works today, of stirring up hatred within us towards our fellow human beings. I studied psychology at the University of Brussels over 50 years ago. At that time, tests were already being carried out on students to see how people made judgments about others. How to manipulate people's opinions. That’s why I can recognize it so well and it’s easier for me to avoid the trap of “I’m the good guy and the other is the bad guy who needs to be punished.”

I am also Belgian, Flemish on my father's side. For years I had to observe how the Flemish were opposed to the Walloons through politics and media. From then on, I had problems with my Walloon friends who felt attacked – and also with my Flemish friends when I wanted to defend the Walloons. It was a terrible time for me. It has calmed down now, but has not completely disappeared. When I travel to other countries, even outside Europe, and I am asked which country I come from, I answer Belgium. So comes the 2nd question: from the north or the south? I answer from the north. I then receive a disdainful look and the friendly conversation stops immediately. Because at one point, the media gave a negative image of the Flemish people throughout the world. Even in Belize it was in the newspapers and these people don't even know where Belgium is.

Can you imagine what that feels like? Coming from a population stigmatized around the world for the interests of political and financial groups that don't even care about others? We cannot defend ourselves against this. How much blood is still being shed around the world for these reasons? Read on and I hope everyone understands that hatred and defamation are ways of pitting one population against another, so wars and terrorist movements continue to exist. There are regions in the world where peace agreements can seemingly never be reached and where violence is justified to obscure the true goals of those who hold financial and political power with very long term ideological, political and financial goals.

Keep reading – geopolitics is an interesting topic that I have been following for over 10 years. If there is a conflict somewhere, I immediately investigate what is in the ground! Even water supply can be a strategic objective for certain countries and regions.

But this conflict is also a clash for metals, oil and gas which has continued to intensify since 2014. Because the rapprochement of Ukrainian government with Western powers has enabled the United States and the European Union to plan the extraction of raw materials from this richly endowed country. A casus belli (reason for war) for Moscow.

Reconciliation between Ukraine and the West, loss of access and control of raw materials: it was too much for Vladimir Putin's Russia.

In 2010, large deposits of shale gas were discovered in Ukraine. The largest is located in Yuzivska in the Kharkiv region, in the east of the country. Its reserves would correspond to a third of Ukraine's annual gas consumption.

In 2013, permits were awarded to the American companies Shell and Chevron.

Against a backdrop of corruption: the Minister of Resources at the time, Mykola Zlochevsky, was also president of Burisma Holdings, one of the largest private gas companies in Ukraine. This group, known to be close to Joe Biden, recruited his son Hunter Biden to its board of directors in 2014.

The gigantic Yuzivska extraction project triggered opposition from residents of the region, who mobilized against the water pollution that would result from hydraulic fracturing, a technique banned in France. But this campaign, affirms the Ukrainian strategic communications center, was exploited by Russia, usually completely indifferent to environmental issues: this country would have largely supported the movement “Shale gas is the death of Donbass”.

The largest gas reserves in Europe

Indeed, while Ukraine lives under the dependence of the Russian company Gazprom, it has the largest gas reserves in Europe after Russia. The exploitation of these reserves would have allowed it not only to become more autonomous, but also to allow American companies to export its gas to Europe to the detriment of Gazprom (Russia).

A similar scenario took place off the coast of Crimea during the same period. Following the discovery of significant oil and gas deposits in the Black Sea, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Chevron obtained exploration permits in 2012.

At the end of November 2013, Ukraine also signed an agreement with EDF and the Italian ENI for the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the east of Crimea aimed at producing 3 million tons of oil per year. All these projects were either abandoned or put on hold by the annexation of Crimea in 2014, notes Maksym Bugriy, Ukrainian analyst.

According to Robert Muggah of the Canadian strategic analysis firm SecDev, the 2014 conquests allowed Russia to control half of Ukraine's conventional oil, 72% of its natural gas, and most of its coal production and reserves. The latter are located in Donbass, once one of the main coal production sites of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and the birthplace of Stakhanov, the coal miner who became the legendary figure of the Soviet worker.

A strategic basement

Since the invasion launched in February 2022, Russia has taken possession of 41 coal mines, around fifty gas and oil sites and around ten strategic mining deposits, according to SecDev.

Indeed, it is also a battle for metals that is being played out in Ukraine. The country's subsoil contains considerable deposits estimated by Ukrainian geological services at a value of 7,500 billion dollars. Ukraine is ranked fifth in the world for its reserves of iron, graphite and manganese — two critical elements for the production of electric batteries.

It is also the sixth largest producer of titanium in the world, a strategic metal for aeronautical production, and contains significant deposits of lithium, copper, cobalt and rare earths, used in the energy sector as well as in electronics and defense.

This is why the European Union concluded a partnership with Ukraine in July 2021 for strategic metals and batteries, a cooperation initiated and gradually strengthened since 2014 (after the Maidan coup and the impeachment of the democratically elected president who preferred good relations with Russia), after Poroshenko's pro-Western government came to power.

This partnership responds to the desire of the European Union - and more broadly of NATO - to secure supplies of raw materials for its industry in the face of Chinese and Russian monopolies. In theory, these are “transition” metals; in practice, the aim is much broader.

It would, for example, ensure imports of

-titanium, decisive for Airbus and Safran;

- zirconium, three-quarters of which is used for nuclear power;

- scandium, a by-product of titanium metallurgy used in fuel cells and ultralight alloys in aeronautics; or

- molybdenum, used in superalloys, screens and electronic chips.

- For the manufacture of semiconductors, the American industry is also 90% dependent on ultrapure quality neon produced in Odessa using gas from steelworks.

Prior to this partnership, Ukraine committed to privatizing its mines and its metallurgical industry, to collaborating with the European (EuroGeoSurveys) and American (USGS) geological services and to producing an “Investment Atlas” in English cataloging available critical metal deposits. According to Ukraine Invest, it identified 8,761 deposits in 2021.

In 2016 the Ukrainian government began selling its mining permits through electronic auctions.

Between 2018 and 2021, the number of permits awarded increased from 150 to 377 and the number of electronic auctions from 10 to 160.

In 2019, Metinvest, the metallurgical company of Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man, partnered with Swiss-based giant Glencore to exploit one of the country's main iron deposits, at Shymanivske, not far from Zaporizhia.

Battle for resources

In 2021,

- the Austrian company European Lithium obtained the country's lithium deposits, including that of Shevchenkivske, located in Donbass.

- Graphite mines in the Mykolayev region, in the south of the country, have been allocated to the Australian company Volt Resources.

- After the invasion of Crimea, the Russian giant*** DF was divested of its titanium mines,

(***Wivine note: DF Group is an international group of companies whose major investments are concentrated in nitrogen, titanium and gas activities. They owned the operation of a Titanium mine in Crimea. The founder of DF Group is Dmitry Firtash, a prominent Ukrainian businessman, philanthropist and gas investor. It is not a Russian group.)

- while the country's other deposits are now exploited by the Ukrainian-American company (Ukraine + USA) Velta Resources.

These deposits are as strategic for NATO countries as they are for Russia.

For Olivia Lazard, of the Carnegie Institute, “its intention is clearly to access the same resources that Europe needs to apply its climate law”.

Russia is already the 2nd world producer of aluminum and the 1st world exporter of nickel, used for batteries. It also dominates the palladium market used in particular for the production of fuel cells.

The dependence of Western buyers on these raw materials is such that the London Metal Exchange has abandoned its ban on the sale of Russian metals (ban following sanctions against Russia).

According to Olivia Lazard, Moscow is seeking to carve out a place for itself in new energy markets while strengthening its status as a major exporting power. This is why the offensive in Ukraine should be placed in the broader context of the maneuvers of the Wagner group, a mercenary company informally linked to the Kremlin, whose owner also runs extraction companies like Lobaye Invest, now present in African countries. richly endowed with mineral resources such as Mozambique, Madagascar, the Central African Republic and Mali.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine therefore also has as a backdrop this clash over the supply of critical materials, the first victim of which is the Ukrainian population.

Geopolitical clashes and extractive projects relegate the Ukrainian population far to the background.

On November 16, 2022, in Brussels, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, and the Minister of Natural Resources, Ruslan Strilets, participated in the 'Raw Materials Week' held in Brussels in the presence of Maroš Šefčovič, European Commissioner and initiator of the metals partnership with Ukraine.

The latter recalled on this occasion the terms of the partnership: “It will help Ukraine to integrate the EU, and it represents for the European Union an essential element in consolidating our supply of raw materials and our geostrategic status. »

Despite the bombings, Minister Ruslan Strilets assured that the reform of the (Ukrainian) Mining Code was almost complete and that the office which issues permits was operational, "at the service of investors who will come forward after the war, and even before Ukrainian victory.”

Jürgen Rigterink, vice-president of the European Development Bank, said that it was the main investor in the country, to the tune of 19 billion euros, funds thanks to which “Ukraine could become a resource superpower ".

What independence from European interests?

Ukraine dreams of independence, and this is why a majority of Ukrainians supported its rapprochement with the EU. But what room for maneuver will remain for the country's leaders when it is necessary to repay the tens of billions of euros in loans taken out from the EBRD, the World Bank, the United States and the European countries which covet its natural resources natural?

We will not only rebuild Ukraine, but we will rebuild it better, greener,” assured Maroš Šefčovič to Ukrainian ministers on November 16, 2022.

But can one rebuild Ukraine “greener” by making the country the mining paradise of European industry? When we know that mining is the most polluting industrial sector and the largest producer of waste in the world.

What do the Ukrainian people think?

Since 2004, residents of the Mariupol region in Donbass have opposed the exploitation of the Azov rare earth and zirconium deposit due to the risks of radioactive pollution and have twice obtained the interruption of the issuance of a permit. The last auction of the deposit in January 2021 triggered large protests in the Manhoush and Nikolske districts.

Once the war is over, won't Ukrainians have the unpleasant surprise of discovering that while they were trying to survive Russian assaults and bombings, their regions were sold to mining and gas companies?


Note Wivine:

These are for sure the reasons that the blood of innocents has continued to flow throughout the world for hundreds of years!

Who are the good ones? Who are the Bad Ones?

There are certainly other ways to get along and share resources without having to steal them, without shedding blood by pitting populations against each other, by keeping entire countries in poverty without any hope of improvement.

People feel it intuitively, something moves in their hearts and they regain hope. Heads of State have risen and more will rise throughout the world with much higher insight, morals and ethics. A new generation, a different youth has been born who will change the face of the world.

The time of the righteous has arrived, the die is cast and the wheel turns unerringly towards happiness, inner and outer peace.