The richest man in Ukraine is planning to sue Russia over billions of dollars in damage done to his steel plants since the Feb. 24 invasion.
Rinat Akhmetov, owner of the Azovstal steel plant and the Illich Steel and Iron Works in Mariupol, told a Ukrainian media outlet on Wednesday that the Russian bombardment of his facilities has caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, and he vowed to demand compensation from the Kremlin.
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"We will definitely sue Russia and demand proper compensation for all losses and lost business," said Akhmetov, whose Metinvest company is Ukraine's biggest steelmaker.
"The replacement cost ... due to Russian aggression is from $17 billion to $20 billion. The final amount will be determined in a lawsuit against Russia," Akhmetov said.
Akhmetov's Azovstal steel plant has been at the center of one of Russia's most brutal military operations during the war. Ukrainian troops and civilians holed up underneath the sprawling facility for more than 80 days, sheltering themselves from Russian shells, bombs, and missiles. Earlier this month, Russia claimed all Ukrainian troops inside the facility had surrendered and that Mariupol was fully under Russian control.
Metinvest declared force majeure days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, announcing that it cannot deliver its supply contracts. An energy company owned by Akhmetov, DTEK, had once provided about 30% of Ukraine's electricity, but it has also sustained heavy damage from Russian shelling.
Akhmetov, 55, is ranked No. 687 on Forbes's list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $4.7 billion. He reportedly purchased the Villa Le Cedres mansion in the French Riviera in 2019 for $221 million, but he said he has remained in Ukraine since the start of the Russian war.
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Despite the heavy toll his business interests have taken since the start of the war, Akhmetov is optimistic that Ukraine will prevail.
"We believe in our country and believe in our victory," he said.