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UK intel: Russia steals Ukraine’s mineral resources in occupied areas

Russia systematically plunders Ukrainian minerals from occupied areas and improves transport for extraction, while facing partisan threats during stolen ore shipments, as per British intelligence.
uk intel russia steals ukraine's mineral resources occupied areas nikanor-nova coal mine zorynsk luhansk oblast currently russian forces archive rfe/rl 6460da4b-3cec-466d-8e35-af99b7d0cced_w1023_r1_s
Nikanor-Nova coal mine in Zorynsk, Luhansk Oblast. Currently occupied by Russian forces. Archive photo: RFE/RL.
UK intel: Russia steals Ukraine’s mineral resources in occupied areas

The UK Defense Ministry has released an intelligence update highlighting Russia’s systematic theft and exploitation of Ukrainian resources in occupied territories.

According to the report, dated 4 July 2024, Ukrainian government sources highlighted Russian theft of resources such as iron ore, coal, titanium, uranium, manganese, gold, and lithium from occupied areas, targeting them to weaken Ukraine’s economy by restricting access and destroying infrastructure.

The intelligence update also notes Russia’s efforts to improve transport networks in occupied Ukraine to boost mineral extraction, with ongoing rail transport of iron ore through risky areas where Ukrainian partisans are active, posing threats to these operations.

The British Defense Ministry wrote:

  • Ukrainian government sources have long highlighted Russian theft of Ukrainian resources from areas it has occupied. Iron ore, coal, titanium, uranium, manganese, gold and lithium deposits are all present in Ukraine, resources which are almost certainly coveted by Russia but also potential targets as Russia seeks to grind down Ukraine’s economy, denying access and destroying infrastructure.
  • One of the reasons Russia seeks to improve transportation networks in occupied Ukraine is because it wants to extract more Ukrainian minerals. The Russian occupation official for Zaporizhzhia region previously claimed the ongoing upgrading and construction of road and rail transportation links to Russia would improve the lines of communication not only for military logistics, but grain and mineral export.
  • South of Dniprorudne in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, Russia continues its mining activity, removing iron ore by rail. Trains travel through Crimea, over the Kerch bridge into Russia. This activity is not without risk; as trains need to move through areas where Ukrainian partisans are known to operate and have already claimed responsibility for attacks.

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