“The war kills people, destroys our lives, and ruins our future,” Akhmetov declared. “I am for peace, but on exclusively Ukraine’s terms and conditions, which means the withdrawal of all Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine and the return of full control over those territories to Ukraine.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has led to a global outpouring of support for Ukraine. The West has come together to stand up to Russia and NATO is once again playing a visibly critical role; both Finland and Sweden submitted application letters to become NATO members in May.
It was only a matter of time before serious calls for Ukraine to join not only NATO but also the European Union began — something Rinat Akhmetov entirely supports.
Rinat Akhmetov: Ukraine Should Be a ‘Free and Democratic’ EU Nation
Rinat Akhmetov firmly believes that Ukraine must use the ongoing conflict to build a free, democratic European country without corruption and with a fully functioning market economy, fair courts, freedom of speech, and functioning institutions of business and political power.
“The status of an EU candidate country is not just a chance to build a new European country; it is a demand of the Ukrainian people to create a free democratic European country without corruption, with a market economy, fair and independent courts, freedom of speech, and a functioning institution of power … We won’t get another chance. It is our historical responsibility to do it now. I am confident that this is exactly what will happen,” Akhmetov told Corriere della Sera.
The Ukrainian billionaire spoke about the significant losses Ukraine has suffered due to the war. According to Akhmetov, the country has lost one-fifth of its territory and is currently running a huge budget deficit of 35%.
Akhmetov also says that Ukraine has lost “one-third of overall steelmaking capacity, 40% of grain export, energy businesses, and infrastructure facilities. And worst of all, an estimated 11 million Ukrainians have left Ukraine for neighboring countries or become internally displaced persons.”
There’s also the issue of forced deportation, a problem Akhmetov hopes to solve through “How to Return Home,” a new project launched via his charitable organization, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. This initiative seeks to help Ukrainians forcibly deported to the Russian Federation, where they face abuse and torture, find out how to return home.
Akhmetov has provided substantial aid to Ukrainian civilians and the armed forces since the start of the conflict. “We are helping the Ukrainian army and territorial defenders,” he explained. “Where possible, we work to cover the battlefront needs. Our steel mills make anti-tank hedgehogs, and we have made and donated 100,000 bulletproof vests for the defenders of Ukraine.”
The Destruction of Akhmetov’s Assets
Rinat Akhmetov’s ability to provide this aid comes largely due to his substantial steelmaking operations across the country.
However, some of these operations have sustained heavy damage as a result of the invasion, especially in the besieged port city of Mariupol, where his Azovstal and Ilyich plants were destroyed and captured by Russian forces. This has impacted Akhmetov’s ability to provide ongoing assistance, and his businesses and personal wealth have suffered massively.
When asked about which of his operations have suffered due to the Russian invasion, Akhmetov said, “Following the large-scale offensive of the Russian Federation on 24 February 2022, such plants as Azovstal, Ilyich Iron and Steel Works of Mariupol, Avdiivka Coke, Luhansk TPP, and dozens of other industrial infrastructure and green energy facilities have been partially or completely destroyed or mothballed.
“The prewar capitalization of these assets amounted to dozens of billions [of] U.S. dollars. The replacement cost estimates show that the losses incurred by Azovstal and Ilyich Iron and Steel Works due to Russian aggression vary from $17 billion to $20 billion.”
Rinat Akhmetov Is Suing Russia
Akhmetov is pursuing legal action against the Russian Federation and recently announced that he’s filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights.
A statement from System Capital Management, the holding company of Akhmetov’s businesses, said Akhmetov is seeking compensation from the Russian Federation for violating his property rights. Bloomberg reports that the Ukrainian state has also begun legal proceedings with the same court and is seeking $80 billion in compensation from Russia for its war crimes.
As for what Akhmetov sees further down the line, he’s optimistic Ukraine will emerge victorious on the other side of the war and that his assets will be put to work in rebuilding Mariupol and other parts of Ukraine.
“I am confident that, as the country’s biggest private business, SCM will play a key role in the postwar reconstruction of Ukraine,” he said, adding that the damage from the war has reached $1 trillion. “I trust that we all will rebuild a free, European, democratic, and successful Ukraine after our victory in this war.”