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Interview 3/9/2022 Read 6 min

Yuriy Ryzhenkov: We are helping the Armed Forces of Ukraine and territorial defence forces and have deployed a humanitarian front

Today, we are focused on the health and lives of our employees and the people who live in the cities where the Group has operations. The second priority is humanitarian aid. The third priority is assistance to the territorial defence forces and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In order to prevent industrial accidents, as soon as hostilities began, we put our enterprises into hot conservation mode. First, we shut down both steel plants in Mariupol, then the same was done in Zaporizhia. When the first missiles hit and the city was bombed, we stopped Zaporizhstal. 

At the same time, we still have our Kamet Steel plant in Kamianske, and our mining assets in Kryvyi Rih, with the latter operating at 30-40% of their capacity. Of course, logistics remains the primary constraint and we simply cannot export more. 

Assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and territorial defence forces

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, our production facilities and plants belonging to our partners have switched to the production of anti-tank obstacles, known as hedgehogs. To date, Metinvest alone has provided more than 3,500 anti-tank hedgehogs and more than 2,000 concrete blocks for shelters. 

This is an ongoing story. Following a decision made by Rinat Akhmetov, we are providing any of our partners with the metal materials needed for the manufacture of hedgehogs and shelters free of charge. In parallel, we are transferring special equipment to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. To date, more than 50 vehicles of various types have been provided. 

Rinat Akhmetov also decided to allocate EUR10 million for the purchase of protective equipment for the territorial defence forces. This equipment includes helmets, armoured vests and first-aid kits. Today, the first batch of almost 3,000 armoured vests and 500 first-aid kits has been purchased. They are on their way to Ukraine and in the near future will be provided to the territorial defence forces

The humanitarian front

As soon as we realised that a bad humanitarian situation could arise, we opened an unprecedented humanitarian front. The main organisations involved are the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, Metinvest Group, DTEK and other SCM businesses. 

Using Metinvest Poland as a base, we have opened a transhipment hub, where we aggregate humanitarian aid coming from different European countries, such as Romania, Germany, the Netherlands, the Baltic states and Poland itself. From there, aid is sent to Ukraine and sorted at a humanitarian centre established in Zaporizhia.

Once sorted, the aid will be directed to where it is needed most. In the coming days, we expect the delivery of more than 80 tonnes of food supplies. Food kits for people are also being prepared from this aid. 

Mariupol steel plants – shelters for city residents

I would like to highlight the situation in Mariupol. Even before the active phase of the fighting began, we provided all the bomb shelters at Ilyich Steel and Azovstal with water, food and other essential items. Since the bombing of the city began, which, unfortunately, is still going on, the city has been under the siege and it has been impossible to evacuate the residents. From the first day, we opened our bomb shelters not only to our employees, but also to all city residents, and they have been staying there ever since.

Now the water and food that we have stocked up on is running out. Therefore, it is critical to organise humanitarian aid, primarily for Mariupol, as well as to the town of Enerhodar. Caravans of trucks have already been formed in Zaporizhia, buses and trucks have been refuelled and are ready to provide assistance to Mariupol.

Unfortunately, the soldiers of the Russian Federation are not allowing them to pass, even though the creation of humanitarian corridors was confirmed at the highest levels. We have been trying to get to the city for a fourth day in a row and cannot make any progress.