The owner of Ukraine’s largest steelmaker has called for his compatriot businessmen “to unite their efforts and spare no expense to assist in the peaceful reconciliation” of the political and social crisis in the country.
Metinvest owner Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, used his holding company’s website on Sunday March 2 to describe as “intolerable” the use of force and illegal action from outside the country.
Russian president Vladimir Putin declared over the weekend that he had the right to invade Ukraine, initiating Moscow’s most serious confrontation with the West since the days of the Cold War, Reuters reported.
Ukraine mobilised for war on Sunday, while the US government threatened to isolate Russia economically.
“The future of our country is under threat,” Akhmetov said. “The interior political tensions may grow into protracted conflict and destroy Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Putin gained the sanction of his parliament on Saturday for the use of military force, allegedly to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine.
His military forces have already seized effective control of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula where Moscow has a naval base, without spilling any blood.
“Our task is to ensure the safety of the people [and] the stability of all enterprises in the country,” Akhmetov said.
Last month, another top Ukraine steelmaker, ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, transferred some of its non-Ukrainian employees, along with their families, to locations outside of the country for several days due to the unstable situation.
SCM Group – the holding company through which billionaire Akhmetov owns Metinvest, as well as a range of other enterprises in finance, telecoms, media, agriculture and other industries – employs 300,000 people.
Metinvest makes most of its steel products in Ukraine, but also has operations in Italy, Bulgaria and the UK. It produced 9.02 million tonnes of finished steel in 2013.