Mariupol has been
and always will be a Ukrainian city, said Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man
to Reuters, adding that Mariupol is a “global tragedy and a global example of
heroism.” Akhmetov owns two steel factories in Mariupol that once competed in
global steel supply, but the war raging in Ukraine’s east over the last eight
years has caused much of his empire to shrink.

Akhmetov, 55, however,
remains defiant. He says he is sure that Ukrainian soldiers will defend the Sea
of Azov city, though he understands “how difficult and hard it is for them.”
Mariupol has been on the receiving end of Russian bombardment for seven straight

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business operations have also ground to a halt. Metinvest, Akhmetov’s company,
has said that it cannot deliver supply contracts. His SCM (System Capital
Management) Group is servicing debt obligations.

The billionaire,
who wasn’t in the best of terms with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky,
praised the president’s “passion and professionalism,” during the war and
seemingly smooth relations. Only last year, Akhmetov was accused of trying to
overthrow the president. At the time, he called the accusation “an absolute

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“And the war is
certainly not the time to be at odds…We will rebuild the entire Ukraine,” he
said. The billionaire is also vying for an international reconstruction
programme – something like the Marshall Plan, the US aid plan that helped
rebuild Western Europe following the Second World War.

“I trust that we all
will rebuild a free, European, democratic and successful Ukraine after our
victory in this war,” he said.

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Russia invaded
Ukraine on February 24 calling it a special military operation. Seven weeks
later, Moscow forces continue in their apparent effort to “demilitarise and
denazify” Ukraine.

Ukrainians have put up a pitched battle against massive odds. Russian forces
have been forced to retreat from Kyiv, and have suffered the loss of a warship
on the Black Sea.