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news 0981231231

From the very moment Russia placed boots on the ground in its vicious invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Ukraine’s richest person, billionaire businessman Rinat Akhmetov, promised to stand by his fellow citizens and do everything possible to help the military fight back, sparing no expense in doing so. Now, more than one year since that fateful day, it’s clear that Akhmetov meant what he said and has stuck to his solemn promise.

“The war is going the way Putin has never expected,” Akhmetov told Forbes. “He did not expect that Ukraine could withstand. But Ukraine has held out, liberated half of the territory occupied by his criminal troops, and is heading toward victory.”

Through a wide range of humanitarian aid efforts, Akhmetov has allocated billions of hryvnia in funding, both from commercial and personal sources, to equip the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the gear they need to fight back, provide vital survival packs to civilians impacted by the war, and ensure that critical infrastructure remains connected to the electrical grid despite Russia’s attempts to destroy it.

How Rinat Akhmetov and his Eponymous Foundation Are Helping Battle-Weary Troops

When asked by the Forbes reporter exactly how much Akhmetov’s charity, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, has directed in terms of financing and resources to helping the people of Ukraine, Akhmetov reported that so far, more than $150 million has been allocated to various aid projects.

“One year into the war, SCM businesses, my foundation, and [Ukrainian professional soccer team] FC Shakhtar have donated $150 million in aid. Our assistance includes body armor, vehicles, equipment, and fortifications for the Ukrainian Defense Forces.”

Metinvest has, for example, used in-house steel resources and technology to produce more than 100 armored shelters for Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines. They’re capable of withstanding hits from artillery shells and are completely collapsible, allowing them to be easily moved to where they’re needed most. Akmetov reckons that overall, more than 170,000 bulletproof vests have been produced and donated to the Ukrainian military and every 10th bulletproof vest in Ukraine is made of Metinvest steel. 

All this aid has been — and continues to be — provided despite Akhmetov sustaining significant commercial losses. Several of his steel plants, including Azovstal and Ilyich in Mariupol and DTEK electricity substations have been damaged, and some 517 of his employees have been killed.

Akhmetov told Forbes that his commercial operations are still running, albeit at a diminished capacity. He continues to pay his 150,000-strong workforce in full, and his companies continue to pay their tax bills ($2 billion in 2022, according to Akhmetov).

“The way business operates has not changed, the circumstances have changed significantly. The management and supervisory boards of our businesses work 24/7, addressing the most challenging problems of wartime, from repair work and energy supplies to production of hundreds of thousands of bulletproof vests and armored shelters for the Ukrainian army,” Akhmetov told Forbes.

“Our companies operate under severe conditions, providing employment and paying salaries, ensuring financial stability, paying taxes, and meeting their commitments to investors.”

When asked how he would describe the state of the companies that belong to his holding company, System Capital Management Group, Akhmetov admits: “It is dire.” Part of his Metinvest Group’s assets — which count the Azovstal and Ilyich steel plants among them — have been severely damaged or temporarily occupied, and “the assets of our energy holding DTEK are exposed to constant shelling and Russian drone attacks.”