What if Austin were Kyiv? Map shows how Russian invasion of Ukraine, war zones can hit close to home

Video Map of ukraine

Geography can help us understand faraway events if we bring them close to home.

Take the Feb. 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine, for instance. By placing the Texas capital of Austin where the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv sits, we get a clearer picture of the war’s proximity to the warring parties and other European countries.

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The map below places Texas over Ukraine, using proper scale, with the two capitals as the shared point. So what if Austin were Kyiv? How close would the war feel to you?

Overlay of Texas onto Ukraine

1. Moscow is about 470 miles away

Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his seat of power in the Kremlin capital, sits only 470 miles away from Kyiv. If Austin were Kyiv, the distance between the two capitals would like driving to northern Arkansas.

Putin has appointed a new Ukraine war commander, the Associated Press reported last weekend. Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, 60 and one of Russia’s most experienced military officers, has a record of brutality against civilians in Syria and other war theaters, U.S. officials told the AP.

2. Odessa to Odesa

If Texas were overlaid onto Ukraine with Austin and Kyiv as the common point, Odessa in West Texas, a key shipping point for livestock and oil production, would be about 480 miles away from its namesake on the Black Sea coast.

According to the Odessa chamber of commerce, the origins of the Texas oil town’s name has multiple legends attached to it but “there is one record … that the founding promoters named Odessa in 1884 for Odessa, Russia, wheat distribution center of the world, because the local terrain looked like good wheat country.”

Odessa is Ector County is about 293 miles west-northwest of Austin, while the port city in southern Ukraine is about 272 miles due south of Kyiv.

How to help:Austin’s Ukrainian community is gathering medical supplies for Ukraine

3. Chernobyl at Fort Hood

If Austin were Kyiv, the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster would be roughly where Fort Hood is in relation to the Texas capital. The forested area around Chernobyl is still considered to be highly contamined, with radioactive particles on the soil.

The Chernobyl plant is no longer active but workers maintain the facility to avoid more radiation leaks. They told CNN that the Russian soldiers who overran Chernobyl and held the site for a month are thought to have been operating in contaminated areas most of the time.

4. Journey to Lviv

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Lviv has become a critical sanctuary in Western Ukraine for those fleeing the bombardment of the capital in Kyiv and the war-ravaged areas in the eastern third of the country along the Russian border.

If Austin were Kyiv, you would need to drive as far as Marfa about 375 miles away to escape Russian attacks and find safe haven at refugee camps in Poland.

Lviv’s proximity to the Polish border about 45 miles away has made it a major staging ground for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, as refugees exit and supplies enter the country. But aerial attacks on the city last month while U.S. President Joe Biden was in the Polish capital of Warsaw showed how no corner of the country is completely safe.

Overlay of Texas onto Ukraine

5. Texas vs. Ukraine

Austin and Kyiv share some similarities beyond being seats of government. Both were founded on rivers: Austin on the Colorado, Kyiv on the Dnieper — one of the longest rivers in Europe. Both are nearly the same size in area: Austin is about 326.5 square miles, and Kyiv is about 324 square miles.

But before the Russian invasion, Kyiv was home to about 3 million people, compared to the almost 1 million that live in Austin.

Read more:An Austin movie theater owner’s family fled Ukraine. Now he’s keeping vigil onscreen.

Texas and Ukraine also share similar sizes in area: the Lone Star State is about 268,000 square miles, while the former Soviet republic is about 233,000 square miles.

But Ukraine’s population of 41 million exceeds Texas’ head count of about 29 million.

6. A clash closer to Russia

Russia’s failure so far to capture the Ukrainian capital has some military analysts speculating that the invading forces instead will focus on an arc of eastern Ukraine largely under Russian control — from Kharkiv in the north to Kherson in the south, according to the Associated Press.

Read:The only Ukrainian artist at SXSW wants world to know about ‘genocide’ of Russian war

If Austin were Kyiv, then Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, would be roughly as close as the Texas-Louisiana border, which is only a handful of hours away by car.

Learn More: What are MANPADS, the portable missiles bringing down Russian aircraft?

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The AP reported Sunday that the Ukrainian military command said Russian forces shelled Kharkiv and sent reinforcements toward Izyum to the southeast in a bid to break Ukraine’s defenses.

7. Dash to Moldova

An estimated 350,000 Ukrainians have fled to neighboring Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries and a former sister Soviet republic. Most evacuees are women and children because most able-bodied men have been ordered to stay behind to fight.

If Austin were Kyiv, making a run for the Moldovan border about 180 miles away would be akin to driving to Laredo on the U.S.-Mexico border about 215 miles away

Overlay of Texas onto Ukraine

8. Battle for the East

The Donbas is a region in eastern Ukraine that has been home to Moscow-backed separatist groups, mostly Russian speakers who have been waging an insurgency since 2014. Donetsk and Luhansk are the main cities in two breakaway regions within the Donbas.

If Austin were Kyiv, the breakaway regions would be in the Gulf of Mexico, but on land about as close as Baton Rouge, La., about 390 miles away, or as near as Oklahoma City, which is about 360 miles away.

Photos:World expresses support for Ukraine and outrage over Russian invasion

At the outset of the invasion, Russia recognized the separatists’ formation of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the adjacent Luhansk People’s Republic.

9. Siege at Mariupol

Russian forces have laid siege to the Black Sea port city of Mariupol since the start of the invasion. Capturing Mariupol is vital to Russia’s effort to complete a land bridge from Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, military analysts have told the BBC.

If the Russians take Mariupol, they would control more than 80% of Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline.

If Austin were Kyiv, the city would be about 390 miles away or as close as the University of Texas McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of West Te.

10. Black Sea frontier

If Austin were Kyiv, the Black Sea coast would be a few hundred miles away in the Gulf of Mexico, with the disputed Crimea Peninsula about 380 miles away.

Crimea, which juts into the northern Black Sea, was Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in March 2014, but the United States and much of the international community has refused to recognize the seizure.

Watch more: Ukraine Live Updates: Russian Forces Regroup, Focusing Efforts on Strategic Targets

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