When Russia declared war on Ukraine in February 2022, Rinat Akhmetov, the richest person in Ukraine, quickly informed the citizens of his adopted country that he had no plans to leave. He promised to use his personal wealth for the good of the country, and he’s stuck to that promise.
As of Feb. 24, 2023, the one-year anniversary of Russia’s first unprovoked attacks, more than 100,000 fighters in the battered country have lost their lives — and that’s not counting civilian deaths. The casualties included 517 people who worked for Rinat Akhmetov’s steel plant, Metinvest, or one of its subsidiaries. More than 1,000 of Akhmetov’s employees have sustained severe injuries in the ongoing Russian invasion.
Akhmetov, who grew up in Donetsk, then a part of the Soviet Union, has already donated more than $150 million in goods and services, which includes 200,000 bulletproof vests for the military and police, energy supplies, and infrastructure repair.
Like most of his fellow citizens, Akhmetov has seen his personal wealth drop significantly due to the war. Before Russia invaded in February 2022, Rinat Akhmetov had an estimated net worth of $14 billion. That figure dropped to $4.3 billion in one year’s time. At age 56, Akhmetov shows no intentions of backing down and not supporting Ukraine as the country continues to weather attacks from Russia at the direction of its president, Vladimir Putin.
Putin Never Counted on the Strength of the Ukrainian Military or the Support of Akhmetov
Rinat Akhmetov states that when Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, he could not have predicted how the country would withstand the attacks and defend its land and fellow citizens.
“The war is going the way Putin has never expected,” he 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. He did not expect that the Western world would stand united, yet the West is united as never before in supporting Ukraine.”
Ukraine has done more than hold out. The war-torn country has resisted the criminal troops from Russia, even as many of its people survived without heating and electricity last winter and this winter.
“He did not expect that Ukraine could survive the winter without electricity and heating,” said Akhmetov.
“Our people have not only restored the energy grid and survived, but also showed Putin that we will never stop fighting for our freedom. He thought that Ukrainians would shower him with flowers, but we have met Russian soldiers with guns, defending every inch of our homeland.”
How Rinat Akhmetov Plans To Operate His Businesses Moving Forward
The management and supervisory boards of Akhmetov’s companies are working around the clock to solve the most challenging problems of the war. Their work started with manufacturing 200,000 bulletproof vests and armored shelter areas for Ukrainian soldiers. Helping with repairs caused by war activity and continuing to create energy supplies fill in much of the rest of the time for Akhmetov’s board of directors. Here are some other tasks Akhmetov has committed to until the end of the war: ensuring financial stability across all companies; meeting ongoing commitments to investors; paying taxes to continue providing for the financial stability of the country; and providing continuous employment with the salary and benefits workers expect.
Rinat Akhmetov paid more than $2 billion in taxes during 2022, even with the war ravaging the country for 11 of the 12 months that year.
In addition to making sure that his employees can continue to pay their bills and feed their families, Akhmetov announced in January 2023 that he would contribute 1 billion hryvnia (approximately $27 million) to Mariupol relief efforts. Akhmetov made this donation in his official capacity as owner of the Shakhtar Donetsk Football Club. He dubbed this initiative the Heart of Azovstal.
The purpose of this most recent charitable campaign is to support soldiers and the families of fallen soldiers. Some of the ways he has earmarked the money already include manufacturing prosthetic limbs for soldiers who have lost a limb in war, making more medical treatments available, offering greater access to psychological care for soldiers and their family members, and having the ability to respond to specific medical, psychological, and everyday requests.
“Their acts of bravery are unparalleled in modern history. It is them, their sacrifice and courage, that helped contain the enemy in the first months of the war and let all of us feel the inevitability of the victory of Ukraine now. I am allocating [1 billion hryvnia] today to help our soldiers, defenders, and their families,” Akhmetov said.