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Mariupol has been a key battleground as Moscow seeks to undo its 2014 defeat when Russian-backed separatists failed to capture the city in Donetsk Oblast (region). We explain why Mariupol holds the key to the Russian offensive.
Geographically, Mariupol forms a land bridge between Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014 – and Dobass, the breakaway regions of Ukraine. Currently, the Sea of Azov is located between the Donetsk-Luhansk region and Crimea.
In addition to land, capturing Mariupol also gives Russia a maritime advantage. With the fall of Kherson, Russia has already extended its control over the Black Sea coastline, most of which is dominated by Moscow after taking Crimea.
Russian oil accounts for a fifth of refined oil in Europe, according to the IEA.
Some refineries producing fuel, from gasoline to jet fuel, such as PCK Schwedt and Leuna in Germany, as well as refineries in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, are supplied with Russian crude oil via the Druzhba pipeline – or “Friendship”.
Poland can switch to maritime supplies from places like Saudi Arabia or Norway via the port of Gdansk in the Baltic Sea.
Poland, which itself is trying to replace all Russian crude in its refineries, could route some of the oil arriving in Gdansk to these two German refineries, but the details have not yet been finalized.
Changing these supply routes will most likely lead to higher raw material prices for two of Germany’s largest refineries, leading to higher prices for end consumers.