The Battle for Ukraine's Titanium: Newsweek
The US and NATO are after Ukraine's titanium while the US's Boeing is parched for the vital commodity.
In a report by Newsweek, the publisher stated that Western support for Ukraine over the past year has tied the US and its European Union-NATO allies inseparably to Kiev's fate.
There is fledgling effort underway in the United States and its allies to identify, develop, and utilize Ukraine's vast resources of a metal that's critical for the development of the West's most advanced military technology, which will allegedly form the backbone of future deterrence against Russia and China, according to Newsweek.
What is titanium? Titanium is a lightweight but strong metal that is widely used in advanced military applications such as fighter jets, helicopters, naval ships, tanks, long-range missiles, and many more.
According to Newsweek, if Ukraine wins, the United States and its allies will be in prime position to cultivate a new titanium conduit. However, if Russia is successful in seizing the country's deposits and plants, Moscow will increase its global influence over an increasingly strategic resource.
Titanium: vital commodity
The Interior Department has identified titanium as one of 35 mineral commodities critical to the United States' economic and national security. However, the United States still imports more than 90% of its iron ore, and not all of it from friendly countries, according to Newsweek.
#Russia is the largest exporter of titanium in the world, an essential component for the #US Boeing aircraft manufacturing in recent years, in addition to its wide usage in many industries.#RussiaUkraine pic.twitter.com/Usp2VARLQq— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) March 12, 2022
The United States no longer has titanium sponge in its National Defense Stockpile, and the last domestic titanium sponge producer closed in 2020.
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Ukraine is one of only seven countries that manufacture titanium sponge, the raw material for titanium metal. This select group includes China and Russia, America's most prominent strategic rivals.
According to the US Geological Survey, China produced more than 231,000 tons of titanium sponge last year, accounting for 57% of global output. Japan came in second with 17%, followed by Russia with 13%. Kazakhstan produced nearly 18,000 tons, while Ukraine produced over 4,000 tons.
Washington DC and other NATO capitals fear that Moscow may one day freeze titanium exports in response to the NATO-led war in Ukraine, which eventually put aerospace and defense companies in a bind. That said, titanium metal has so far escaped the sanction campaigns launched by the US, EU, and their allies against Moscow.
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Boeing maintains its joint venture with Russia's VSMPO-Avisma, the world's largest titanium exporter, but orders have been halted since the war in Ukraine. Others, such as the European commercial aircraft corporation Airbus, continue to source titanium from VSMPO.