As Russian troops amassed at Ukraine’s borders in February 2022, Facebook posts listed more than 30 purported reasons as to why the country held a place of unique importance.
Much of the data included in the viral “why Ukraine matters” posts were true. Some of the items on the list had become outdated, but more recent numbers still showed that the country had a strong standing in various categories of reserves, production, and exports.
On Jan. 3, 2022, a Facebook user posted more than 30 purported reasons as to why Ukraine matters. It was copied and pasted many times on social media in what’s known as copypasta. The data from the posts also showed up on the AndesiteBlue website and in Twitter threads.
We found a similar post on LinkedIn from January 2021 titled: “Ukraine’s positions in Europe and the world.” It was credited to Mykola Siutkin. That indicated to us early on that some of the data were perhaps outdated when it went viral in 2022. The more recent social media posts came at a time when hundreds of thousands of Russian troops were on the brink of invading Ukraine. The signs of a potential conflict led to NATO allies telling their citizens to leave the country. The situation also escalated warnings of “devastating economic and trade sanctions” for Russia.
Some readers may have seen that The New York Times published a story on Feb. 19 with the headline, “Why Ukraine Matters: What to Know About the Crisis With Russia.” However, that article appeared to have a very different focus than the social media claims.
For this story, we will look at the truthfulness of the more than 30 individual claims that were listed in the viral Facebook posts.
The Viral Posts
One of the many Facebook posts with the copied-and-pasted text read as follows:
Why does the Ukraine matter? Just a little info on the natural resources, economy, geographic location, and size of why it’s important to Europe and the global supply chain.
How the nation of Ukraine ranks:
- 1st in Europe in proven recoverable reserves of uranium ores;
- 2nd place in Europe and 10th place in the world in terms of titanium ore reserves;
- 2nd place in the world in terms of explored reserves of manganese ores (2.3 billion tons, or 12% of the world’s reserves);
- 2nd largest iron ore reserves in the world (30 billion tons);
- 2nd place in Europe in terms of mercury ore reserves;
- 3rd place in Europe (13th place in the world) in shale gas reserves (22 trillion cubic meters)
- 4th in the world by the total value of natural resources;
- 7th place in the world in coal reserves (33.9 billion tons