In a recent interview, Rinat Akhmetov made clear his intentions to help the country “survive and withstand” the war.
Akhmetov returned to Ukraine following a televised address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which included harsh criticism aimed at a group of wealthy, top-earning Ukrainians who had left the company as news of a potential invasion broke. Upon his return, he headed straight for his Metinvest facility where he addressed employees.
“We have a common goal – strong and successful businesses, a strong, peaceful, beautiful, and successful Mariupol, and a strong, peaceful, united, beautiful, and successful Ukraine,” Akhmetov said. He went on to add that his group of businesses planned to do everything possible to ensure that Mariupol and wider Ukraine will keep developing, and that citizens will continue to enjoy decent jobs, good salaries, and a happy life, no matter what the outcome of the war.
“In wartime, our company operates accordingly. Now our utmost goal is to help Ukrainians survive and withstand,” Akhmetov said in a recent interview.
For those that know of Rinat Akhmetov’s history of philanthropy, his recent remarks will come as little surprise. He has been providing support to the Ukrainian people through his Foundation for decades, and a huge amount of that has been concentrated on those affected by the Russian annexation of Crimea that took place in 2014.
Akhmetov himself suffered several big losses due to the situation in Crimea, Donbas, and Donetsk. Several of his assets— including real estate, gas stations, and the home stadium of his football team, Shakhtar Donetsk — were lost during the 2014 invasion.
This time, Akhmetov is clearly more prepared for the devastation ahead. “I have already instructed my foundation to help with evacuation, medicines, and everything necessary if needed. We will do everything to prevent a humanitarian disaster,” he said just two days prior to Russia’s invasion.
Since this time, Russia’s invasion and aggression have left the city of Mariupol totally destroyed. The city stood as a strategic target for Russian and pro-Russian forces, and the city has been under siege since February 25. On March 13, the Red Cross designated that this siege had become a humanitarian crisis, and by March 18, the city was completely encircled by Russian forces and fighting had reached the city center, preventing civilians from escaping. By the end of March, Ukrainian authorities said that around 90% of buildings in Mariupol were damaged or destroyed, with aid workers describing conditions there as “apocalyptic”.
In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion, European leaders far and wide began pledging their support for Ukraine through a range of measures including sanctions, donations, and the provision of munitions to Ukraine’s armed forces.
On February 28, Ruben Brekelmans, an MP for the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, which leads the Dutch governing coalition, called Russia’s actions “excessive, criminal and unnecessary violence,” adding that, “The Dutch government should welcome Ukrainian refugees, supply weapons in the fight against Russian troops and “must do everything that is necessary. Budget must not be an issue.”
Earlier on that day, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told parliament that, “the Netherlands, together with allies, is ready to do more if necessary.”
The Netherlands has already helped Ukraine with supplies of anti-tank rockets, missile defense systems, and other weapons. Rutte also called for international unity to end Russian aggression in Ukraine, saying that the world’s democratic states are, “united in their rejection of this invasion and support for Ukrainian people.”
“We must stop Russia’s aggression, Putin’s aggression, jointly with our partners and allies.”
Following an appeal from the Dutch Ministry of Education, major Dutch research and educational institutions have frozen their relations with Russia, joining the growing number of sectors that have opted to sever ties with the country.