Opinion | How to Think About Ukraine, in Maps and Charts – The New York Times

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Sara Chodosh, Nathaniel Lash, Zach Levitt, Yaryna Serkez and Feb. 25, 2022
With the minute-by-minute reports on Russian military attacks across Ukraine, and the detailed analysis of Vladimir Putin’s moves and motivations, it can be easy to lose sight of the country itself — especially when many people are still on a learning curve about Ukraine. Here are four ways to think about Ukraine, in maps and charts, that help show why the nation is so important to Europe and Mr. Putin, and how the Russian invasion is already reverberating across America and around the world.
Ukraine is Europe’s second largest country by land area and seventh largest by population. In square miles, it is slightly smaller than the state of Texas. Overlaid atop a map of Western Europe, it encompasses Switzerland, northern France and southern Germany.
U.K.
GERMANY
UKRAINE
FRANCE
ITALY
SPAIN
U.K.
POLAND
GERMANY
UKRAINE
FRANCE
ITALY
SPAIN
Compared to two other nations that have experienced invasions in this century, Ukraine is larger than Iraq — about 223,000 square miles (including Crimea and separatist regions) compared to Iraq’s 169,000 — but smaller than Afghanistan (252,000 square miles).
“The battlefield is enormous,” Seth G. Jones, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said of Ukraine. “Even if Russians are successful with overthrowing the government in Kyiv, a Russian-installed government won’t sit well with many Ukrainians,” Jones added.
“We’re talking about the potential for fighting to continue in a huge geographic area,” Jones said, adding that a protracted insurgency in Ukraine could lead to “large displacements of people the likes of which we haven’t seen since World War II.”
100 MILES
POL.
BELARUS
RUSSIA
Claimed by
separatists, held
by Ukraine
Lviv
Kharkiv
Kyiv
UKRAINE
MOLDOVA
Held by separatists
ROMANIA
Odessa
Ukraine
CRIMEA
BLACK SEA
Population
600k
1 million people
Population
Warsaw
BELARUS
200k
600k
1m
RUSSIA
POLAND
Claimed by separatists, held by Ukraine
Lviv
720k
Kharkiv
Kyiv
1.4m
3.0 million
Dnipro
UKRAINE
980k
Donetsk
910k
Held by separatists
MOLDOVA
Zaporizhshia
720k
Chisinau
ROMANIA
SEA OF
AZOV
Odessa
1.0m
CRIMEA
Ukraine
Bucharest
BLACK SEA
100 MILES
Population
BELARUS
200k
600k
1m
Warsaw
Vorozneh
POLAND
RUSSIA
Claimed by separatists, held by Ukraine
Lviv
720k
Kharkiv
Kyiv
1.4m
3.0 million
SLOVAK.
UKRAINE
Dnipro
Held by separatists
980k
Donetsk
HUNGARY
910k
MOLDOVA
Zaporizhshia
Rostov-on-Don
720k
Chisinau
SEA OF
AZOV
ROMANIA
Odessa
1.0m
CRIMEA
Krasnodar
Ukraine
Bucharest
BLACK SEA
100 MILES
The country’s most populous cities are Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro, Zaporizhshia and Lviv.
Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, has a population of almost 3 million people. Since the country gained independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kyiv has become the nation’s economic and cultural center.
Kharkiv, with 1.4 million inhabitants, lies 20 miles from Ukraine’s Russian border. The city holds symbolic importance for Mr. Putin, who wrote last year that a failed 1918 attempt at Ukrainian statehood in Kharkiv was an “instructive” reminder of Russia’s power.
Lviv is the largest city in Western Ukraine and a growing technological hub. Close to countries in the European Union, the city has long been a bastion of anti-Russian political activity.
Ukrainians’ attitudes toward Russia
Russia annexes
Crimea
100%
75
Positive attitude
50%
50
34%
25
Negative attitude
0
2010
2012
2014
2016
2018
2020
2022
Ukrainians’ attitudes toward Russia
Russia annexes
Crimea
100%
75
Positive attitude
50%
50
34%
25
Negative attitude
0
2010
2012
2014
2016
2018
2020
2022
Most Ukrainians had a positive attitude towards Russia in the early 2010s, according to polling from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. That changed in 2014, when Russia swiftly invaded and then annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.
Since then, anti-Russian sentiment has remained high, with some regional variation. In a survey conducted earlier this month, 21 percent of respondents in Western Ukraine held positive attitudes towards Russia, compared to 53 percent in Eastern Ukraine, which is closer to Russia. (The survey did not include inhabitants of separatist-controlled regions.)
But even in Eastern Ukraine, respondents were protective of the country’s independence. Just 11 percent of the survey’s respondents there thought that the country should join Russia and become a single state. And there was widespread opposition to a Russian invasion: 58 percent of respondents across the country said they were ready to resist Russian troops, and 37 percent supported an armed insurgency if Russian troops invaded their city or village.
Some countries rely heavily on Ukraine’s
wheat exports
Libya
49%
Share of wheat imports coming from Ukraine
Tunisia
45%
Bangladesh
30%
Some countries rely heavily on Ukraine’s wheat exports
Libya
49%
Share of wheat imports coming from Ukraine
Tunisia
45%
Bangladesh
30%
Sometimes referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe,” Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of grains. Prices of the commodity have already spiked, and supply disruptions could lead to increased food insecurity in countries that rely on Ukraine’s exports, such as Libya and Tunisia.
The largest shocks to the worldwide economy will likely be in the gas and oil markets. Europe relies heavily on its energy needs from Russia, and more than a third of Russia’s gas exports flow through Ukraine. As of Thursday afternoon, oil prices topped $100 a barrel for the first time in more than seven years. Some experts predict that consumers may see gas prices rise to more than $4 per gallon.
Ukraine itself is heavily dependent on nuclear energy, generating roughly half of its overall electricity at its 15 reactors scattered across the country. While the country may not export much of that energy, its nuclear power plants are still cause for concern: Attacks in that Chernobyl exclusion zone have prompted fears of kicked-up radioactive dust, which could drift across country borders.
Correction: An earlier version of a graphic accompanying this article misstated Ukraine’s share of global wheat exports. It is 9 percent, not 34 percent. An earlier version of a graphic accompanying this article misstated the map’s scale. The bar represents 100 miles, not 500 miles.
Sara Chodosh, Zach Levitt, Nathaniel Lash, Yaryna Serkez and Gus Wezerek are graphics editors for Opinion.
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