Ukraine’s top oligarch vowed on Saturday to help rebuild his crumbling country, just five months after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused him of funding a pro-Russian coup.
“We will rebuild all of Ukraine,” said billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man.
“We will certainly need an unprecedented international reconstruction program, a Marshall Plan, for Ukraine,” he added, referring to the massive US-led effort to restore Europe. following World War II.
Akhmetov’s two steel mills based in Mariupol, the backbone of his $3.9 billion fortune, have been put out of action during Russia’s continued bombardment of the strategic Ukrainian port city.
“My ambition is to return to a Ukrainian Mariupol and implement our [production] plans so that the steel produced in Mariupol can be competitive in world markets as before,” Akhmetov said.
“Mariupol is a global tragedy and a global example of heroism,” he said. “I believe our brave soldiers will defend the city, although I understand how difficult and difficult it is for them.”
In November, Zelensky accused Akhmetov of conspiring to overthrow his government in a Russian-backed plot – amid rising tensions as Vladimir Putin’s forces massed along the Ukrainian border in a military buildup ahead of the invasion.
Akhmetov, a vocal opponent of Zelensky’s anti-corruption measures targeting the country’s oligarchs, called the coup allegation an “absolute lie”, Politico reported at the time.
On Saturday, the oligarch hailed Zelensky’s “passion and professionalism” in resisting the Russian invasion.
“War is definitely not the time to disagree,” Akhmetov said.
Akhmetov’s vow to help his homeland came a day after his steel company, Metinvest, said “Mariupol must remain Ukrainian”.
“We believe in Ukraine’s victory and… will never operate under Russian occupation,” the company said.
New York Post