The Road to World War III Runs through Ukraine
The population of the Ukraine is 45 million and it has the second most robust economy in the former states of the former Soviet Republic. This, alone, makes the Ukraine important. However, the Ukraine’s importance extends far beyond these considerations.
In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan because they were hopeful of establishing a natural gas pipeline through the country and thus, make Russia a player in the energy business. Russia failed in this attempt. Despite losing the war in Afghanistan, the Russians pursued their policy of energy dominance under Putin. Subsequently, Russia has become a major player in the energy business in which Russia supplies much of Europe a healthy portion of its energy needs. Without the Ukraine, Russia becomes a significant purchaser of energy, not a seller. For both Europe and the Russians, the Ukraine is most important for its location, particularly as a transit state for energy. Nearly 25% of the European Union’s natural gas comes from Russia, and 80% of that gas passes through the Ukraine. Wars have been fought for far less important economic reasons.