Ukraine’s richest man has committed to help rebuild Mariupol, a city near and dear to his heart where he owns two massive steelworks that he claims will compete globally once again.
Rinat Akhmetov’s economic empire has been wrecked by eight years of fighting in eastern Ukraine, but he remains defiant, confident that “our gallant soldiers” will protect the Sea of Azov city, which has been reduced to a wasteland by seven weeks of bombing.
For the time being, however, his Metinvest company, Ukraine‘s largest steelmaker, has stated that it will be unable to fulfil its supply contracts, and while his financial and industrial SCM Group is servicing its debt obligations, his private power producer DTEK has “optimised payment of its debts” in an agreement with creditors.
“Mariupol is both a global tragedy and a global heroism example. Mariupol has always been and will always be a Ukrainian city to me “In written responses to media questioning, Akhmetov stated.
“I trust our courageous warriors will defend the city, but I understand how difficult and difficult it is for them,” he said, adding that he was in daily communication with the Metinvest management in charge of the Mariupol factories Azovstal and Illich Iron and Steel Works.
Metinvest announced on Friday that it will never work under Russian occupation and that the Mariupol siege had rendered more than a third of Ukraine’s metallurgical manufacturing capacity inoperable.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s “passion and professionalism” throughout the battle were hailed by Akhmetov, reportedly mending relations after the Ukrainian leader said plotters seeking to undermine his administration sought to enlist the businessman last year.
At the time, Akhmetov declared the claim “an total fraud.”
“And the moment to be at odds is not during a conflict… We will reconstruct Ukraine as a whole “He returned to the country on February 23 and has been there ever since, he claimed.
Akhmetov did not explain where he was, but he did indicate he was in Mariupol on Feb. 16, the day the invasion was supposed to start, according to certain Western intelligence services. He remarked, “I talked to folks on the street, I met with employees…”
“My objective is to return to a Ukrainian Mariupol and implement our (new production) plans so that steel manufactured in Mariupol can compete in global markets as it did previously.”
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” the country, and the country was invaded. That is rejected by Kyiv and its Western supporters as a basis for an unjustified invasion.
Since 2014, when Russia invaded the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and two eastern Ukrainian provinces – Donetsk and Luhansk – declared independence from Kyiv, Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, has watched his commercial empire collapse.
Akhmetov’s net worth was $15.4 billion in 2013, according to Forbes magazine. It is now valued at $3.9 billion.
“The conflict broke out in 2014 for us. In both Crimea and the briefly seized territory of Donbas, we lost all of our assets. We lost our enterprises, but it strengthened and toughened us “he stated
“As the country’s largest private firm, I am certain that SCM will play a vital role in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine,” he said, quoting officials who stated the war’s damage had topped $1 trillion.
“We will undoubtedly require an unparalleled international reconstruction effort, a Marshall Plan for Ukraine,” he said, referring to the United States’ aid programme that helped rebuild Western Europe after WWII.
“I am confident that, following our victory in this battle, we will all work together to rebuild a free, European, democratic, and successful Ukraine.”