Ukraine steelmaker says Russia is taking metal from Mariupol

Russian servicemen stand guard at the Ilyich Steelworks in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol on May 18, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

KYIV (BLOOMBERG) - A Ukrainian steelworks owned by billionaire Rinat Akhmetov accused Russia of taking its metal from Mariupol for resale back home and asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to sanction the "pirates".

A boat loaded with metal from the Ilyich Steelworks headed to the Russian port of Rostov-on-Don at the end of May, Metinvest Holding said in a statement.

About 145,000 tonnes of steel products were left in Mariupol, a port city occupied by Russia's military.

The company, Ukraine's biggest steelmaker, did not say how much of its product was on that boat.

Metinvest, which also has its Azovstal plant in the city, said the River Sea freight company transported the metal.

River Sea director Gennady Arustamov declined to comment.

The alleged thefts would fit a pattern of Russia targeting commodity hubs that provided Ukraine with vital export revenues.

A report by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe found evidence of looting by Russian troops, in addition to war crimes against civilians.

More than US$600 million (S$800 million) worth of grain was stolen from occupied regions of Ukraine and sent to Russia, according to the Kyiv School of Economics.

Moscow denies targeting civilian installations and infrastructure.

The steelworks assumed a symbolic significance after its Azovstal plant became the last holdout of Ukrainian troops in Mariupol, which is devastated by almost three months of Russian assault.

Russia said its forces took control of the plant last month.

Metinvest's two Mariupol iron-and-steel plants halted production at the beginning of the war.

Akhmetov is Ukraine's richest man and owns System Capital Management, the country's largest industrial conglomerate with investments in metallurgy, mining and energy.

He has a net worth of US$6.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Remote video URL

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.