International /

Sen. Lindsey Graham Says Ukraine War Is About Controlling Rare Earth Minerals

'They're sitting on a goldmine'

Sen. Lindsey Graham Says Ukraine War Is About Controlling Rare Earth Minerals

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says that the war in Ukraine is actually about securing control over multi-trillion dollar reserves of rare earth minerals, which are critical components in everything from advanced military weaponry to electric vehicle batteries.

During an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation on June 9, Graham, one of Ukraine’s staunchest congressional supporters, remarked that Ukraine is “sitting on $10 to $12 trillion of critical minerals,” which he fears would be controlled by U.S. adversaries if Washington discontinues support for Kyiv’s war with Moscow.

“I don't want to give that money and those assets to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to share with China,“ the fourth term senator continued. “If we help Ukraine now, they can become the best business partner we ever dreamed of. That, $10 to $12 trillion of critical mineral assets could be used by Ukraine and the West, not given to Putin in China.”

Graham, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also called Putin a “megalomaniac” who is trying to “re-create the Russian empire by force of arms” through the war with Ukraine.

An admission that the war is about controlling resources is a sharp departure from Graham’s prior explanations for the conflict, when he’s suggested that the two-and-a-half year battle has been about securing freedom for Ukrainian citizens.

According to a 2022 report, Ukraine is sitting atop some of the world’s largest untapped reserves of titanium, iron, neon, nickel, lithium, coal, and other resources.

As SCNR has previously reported:

Lithium is a critical component of electric vehicle batteries. Currently, EVs using lithium-ion batteries comprise 1.3 percent of the global transportation market. Analysts forecast that by 2030, at least 27 percent of vehicles will be powered by lithium-ion batteries and market penetration by 2050 will be 58 percent.

The Kleinman Center for Energy Policy estimates the global demand for lithium to grow between “400 percent and 4,000 percent in the coming years.”

Much of that growth is attributable to governments around the world pivoting to green economies that seek to ban vehicles powered by fossil fuels. But, because of the increased demand, lithium has been in short supply.

Amid the push for more EVs, lithium prices have gone up by as much as 600 percent, according to the New York Times.

Ukranian researchers estimate the country’s lithium oxide reserves at nearly 500,000 tons, making it one of the largest supplies on earth.

“This is a very big deal how Ukraine ends,” Graham told viewers.

“Let's help them win a war we can't afford to lose,” he added. “Let's find a solution to this war. But they're sitting on a goldmine. To give Putin $10 or $12 trillion of critical minerals that he will share with China is ridiculous.”

The Kremlin has “never spoken of any intention to take over Ukraine’s resources, but has repeatedly stressed that the former Ukrainian regions which have chosen to join Russia, including Crimea, must remain under its control,” according to Russian state media outlet RT.

However, it is notable that “geographically, most rare earth deposits — including substantial ones of beryllium, niobium, and tantalum — appear to be concentrated in Kruta Balka in Zaporizhzhia, Shevchenko in Donetsk, and the Polokhivske fields in Dobra — all of which are in or near the Russian-occupied zones,” as reported by Foreign Policy Magazine in 2022, just two months after the latest conflict began.

Social media users immediately lambasted Graham over the remarks in the video he posted, which got “ratio-ed” on X.

“As an American…this is literally none of your f**king business,” wrote former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter.

“So this war really isn't about defending democracy,” wrote another detractor.

A man named Bob Sanford replied to Graham, “This traitor needs to be run out of office.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*