With pro-Russian forces storming the South Ukrainian government buildings, the countdown has started on Russia’s invasion of South Ukraine. A NATO general has predicted such an invasion would take 3-5 days.
10. Russia believes it must stop the expansion of NATO before it grabs South Ukraine’s weapons industry. If NATO controlled Ukraine’s weapons’ exports to Russia, Russia’s ability to re-arm would be paralyzed.
9. South Ukraine holds the connective path to the Russian Majority Trans-Dniester Moldavia.
8. South Ukraine holds and controls electric power to Crimea. So, without Russia controlling South Ukraine, North Ukraine’s control of South Ukraine can turn Crimea’s lights out.
7. South Ukraine holds Zheltiye Vody the center of Ukraine’s Uranium mining, and Dneprozerzhinsk, the Heavy water production site, which could produce 250 metric tons of heavy water per year.
6. South Ukraine holds critical Soviet-era nuclear, coal, hydro-electric power plants.
5. South Ukraine holds existing gas pipeline to Romania, and from the Romanian Black Sea coastal plain the gas pipeline would wind its way up the Danube River Basin into the heart of Europe – the Black Forest of Germany. Russia would moot the need to spend tens of billions building the Black Sea, or alternative Crimean leg of Russia’s planned South Stream gas pipeline. Russian control of the South Ukraine gas pipeline would provide an “end-run-around” what is now North Ukraine’s stranglehold bottleneck on Russian gas exports to Europe.
4. South Ukraine holds many vital Soviet-era military industry, ship-building, and land arms factories necessary for Russia army and navy. In fact, many of the key components, such as helicopter rotors, are made in South Ukraine. For Russia, no South Ukraine means no Russian helicopters. Now, Ukraine is the 4th largest exporter of weapons in the world, mostly from South Ukraine. Also, South Ukraine is arming Russian client-states such as Assad. So, for Russia, no South Ukraine means no easy ability to arm client states.
3. South Ukraine holds huge Iron Ore Deposits, and other vital minerals.
2. South Ukraine, like Crimea, holds huge natural gas and conventional oil deposits, as well as off-shore deposits in the Black Sea.
1. South Ukraine holds a significant Russian majority.
Like Crimea, the South Ukraine holds a considerable majority of ethic Russians who speak Russian as their primary language.
Time will tell if Putin’s assessment of Russia’s needs trumps international opinion.