Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s wealthiest individual, has been a prominent figure in the ongoing Ukrainian opposition to Russia’s invasion. Despite the devastating impact of the war on his businesses and employees, Akhmetov has been defiantly vocal about his commitment to his homeland. But his resolve isn’t just in words; he’s putting his money where his mouth is with substantial financial contributions and strategic efforts aimed at both short-term relief and long-term recovery.
“I am in Ukraine and I am not going to leave the country,” he told Forbes. “I share the same feelings with all Ukrainians: I am sincerely waiting for the victory of Ukraine in this war. And we will start to rebuild the country to make it happier and more prosperous. On my end, I will spare no expense or effort to achieve this goal.”
When asked what a win would look like for Ukraine, Akhmetov was clear:
“A victory for me means to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine within the borders of 1991, which includes Donbas and the Crimea. It means that we punish the aggressor state for its crimes against humanity, get reparations from Russia, and implement a new Marshall Plan for Ukraine as a member of EU and NATO.”
A Business Empire Under Siege
Akhmetov’s business empire hasn’t been spared. Russian forces have inflicted significant damage on key facilities owned by his mining and steel firm, Metinvest, and his power generation company, DTEK.
“Metinvest operates at 30% to 50% of its capacity because of the constant shelling and as a result of the occupation of the Black Sea area, including the ports,” Akhmetov told Forbes in February. Despite these setbacks, he continues to pay his 150,000 employees, and his System Capital Management Group has even managed to pay $2 billion in taxes in 2022.
Still, through his Rinat Akhmetov Foundation and his companies, including SCM and Metinvest, Akhmetov has contributed over $150 million in supplies and services, ranging from infrastructure repair and energy supplies to refugee relief and more.
“SCM businesses are helping the army and territorial defense forces to defend our sovereignty, our freedom and independence, and win the war,” he said.
This includes funding the production of nearly 200,000 bulletproof vests and armored shelters for the Ukrainian army. It also constituted a donation of $25 million to support those directly affected by the defense of Mariupol, funded by a player transfer fee from Akhmetov’s Shakhtar Donetsk soccer club.
In addition, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation remains active in supporting physical and mental health care through its Humanitarian Center in Donbas. It recently concluded its annual Blogger Camp, which is dedicated to providing rest and creative education for Ukrainian youth affected by the war.
Rinat Akhmetov’s Legal Actions and Future Plans
Akhmetov is also taking the legal route to hold Russia accountable. In April, court proceedings began in a $17 billion lawsuit Akhmetov brought against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights. “Our demands are clear: recognize that the actions of Russia violate the European Convention on Human Rights and make Russia pay fair compensation,” he said.
To date, his assets affected by Russia’s aggression have filed more than 60 court claims.
A Plea to the International Community
Beyond the borders of his beloved war-torn homeland, Akhmetov has called on Ukraine’s allies to develop an effective international system for seeking reparations from Russia.
“This system must operate to the benefit of Ukraine and all those affected by the war in Ukraine, both civilians and businesses,” he emphasized.
He also had words for the American public: “The American people are well aware of this terrible and unjust war unleashed by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin against Ukraine. The American people know what the fight for freedom is. The American people are helping Ukraine win this war.”
Rinat Akhmetov’s actions and statements paint a picture of a man deeply committed to his country’s cause. His financial contributions, strategic efforts, and unwavering resolve demonstrate that he’s not just a businessman caught in a geopolitical storm, but a Ukrainian patriot determined to contribute meaningfully to his country’s defense and future.