We have been inundated with requests to show how the Ukraine is split when it comes to Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers.
So we have put together a political map of the Ukraine showing the make up of Russian speaking population in the Eastern end of the country.
We have also shown where the flight MH17 was shot down. Most of the area currently in dispute, lies within the region of Donetsk. MH17 was shot down North East of the city of Torez that lies within this region.
The Crimea to the south has already been effectively annexed by Russia although this has not been recognized by any nations.
When looking at this map it begs the question. Why was flight MH17 even flying through that region? There has been intense fighting in the area and many other airlines have been avoiding the flight paths that pass through this war zone.
You will note that the Crimea and Donetsk are the two regions that have the highest Russian speaking population in the Ukraine and are effectively the only areas in dispute to date.
There has been a spotlight shone on the Ukraine this week with the downing of flight MH17 by Ukrainian separatist rebels. However that war has been raging for quite a while now and the European Union has been very reluctant to get involved.
One theory is the reliance of the European community on Russian natural gas supplies as an energy supply. The Russian gas supply is particularly important in winter, as European household heating requirements increase.
The above map of gas pipelines produced by Agence France-Presse shows the routes into Europe pass through the Ukraine. This adds a level of complexity to the diplomatic dance over the war in Ukraine. There used to be two parties that could interfere with European gas supply from Russia. The first party being the Russian government and associated government and corporate bodies (Gasprom), as happened back in 2009 . The second being the Ukrainian government. Although this possibility was considered almost negligible until recently as the Ukraine gathers a good commission by on-selling Russian gas.
Now we have a third player. The Russian backed separatist rebels in the east of Ukraine . These rebels seem to be backed by Russia and in fact it is considered highly likely that these rebels used a Russian built self propelled missile battery to down the ill fated flight MH17.
Why would the rebels want to interrupt the gas supply?
Currently there are two schools of thought on why the rebels would want to interrupt the European gas supply.
- By interrupting the winter gas supply the rebels could force the European community to put pressure on the Pro-west Ukrainian government to be less unyielding at the negotiating table.
- The other possibility is to force Russia to help more actively in the fight against the Ukrainian government. Currently it is widely believed that Russia is secretly helping the Ukrainian rebels. The added economic pressure on Russia that slowing the gas supply would impose, might make Russia take steps to try and end the war earlier. Either by influencing the Ukrainian government or helping the rebels win the war.
In either case we can see that the winter of 2014-2015 is shaping up to be a tense one for European nations.
After the reported shooting down of Malaysian airliner (Flight MH17), it seems all air traffic was directed to leave or avoid Ukraine airspace. Above is an amazing image tweeted by NewsWeek. Sadly it would appear that all 295 people on board died as a result of this horrific incident. Initial reports are that pro-Russian groups are the cause of this incident and are now hampering efforts by Ukrainian investigators to retrieve the black box flight recorded.
We will be updating this story as more information comes to light.
Some pictures of the crash zone are coming to light.