With no clear end in sight to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Rinat Akhmetov, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest individuals, continues to stress the importance of charitable giving, emphasizing empathy and systematic action in the face of a generation-altering war in his native country.
Akhmetov, the majority owner of international mining company Metinvest, has seen his personal wealth significantly reduced by the war, with some estimates charting the loss as over $7 billion.
But he remains steadfast in his commitment to staying in Ukraine and funding services and equipment across the country. According to Forbes, through his Rinat Akhmetov Foundation and companies including Metinvest and System Capital Management, he’s donated over $150 million to the war effort.
“For me, charity is, first of all, the ability to feel someone else’s pain. It is the ability to share someone else’s pain. It is a systematic fight against systemic problems. It means openness and, of course, commitment to delivering results,” he said in an interview on the foundation’s website.
Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s ‘Consistent Approach’
When asked about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, Akhmetov explained, “Only a consistent approach can help us overcome these problems.”
According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, as many as 17.6 million Ukrainians, 43% of Ukraine’s population, will require humanitarian assistance in 2023.
Faced with such a massive scale of need, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation has focused largely on health care and other essentials for civilians while also supporting the Ukrainian military.
This includes funding the manufacture of nearly 200,000 bullet-proof vests and armored shelters as well as donating $25 million from Ukrainian soccer star Mykhailo Mudryk’s transfer fee from Akhmetov’s Shakhtar Football Club to Chelsea. The funds were sent to assist soldiers and their families, particularly those who had defended the port city of Mariupol before it fell to Russian forces.
He also established the Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center, aimed at providing relief in the conflict-ridden region of Donbas, which was first invaded by Russia in 2014.
“We consolidated the efforts and resources of [System Capital Management] companies, Shakhtar Football Club, and our foundation,” he explained.
“We all know that a great tragedy came to Donbas in 2014. People found themselves overcome by the suffering of war. This tragedy spared no one — neither children nor the elderly. So, if we do not think about children, what kind of parents are we then? And if we do not think about how to help our old folks, what kind of children are we then? At that time, every one of us was thinking about what to do and how to help the weak and defenseless: pensioners, the disabled, children, and single mothers. That’s why I decided to establish the Humanitarian Center and tasked it with saving human lives.”
Rinat Akhmetov’s philanthropic endeavors began before the current crisis, but they have ramped up due to the constant need.
“We have been helping and will continue to help, as long as our help is needed,” he affirmed. Viewing charity as a “systematic fight against systemic problems,” Akhmetov stressed the imperative to be persistent in helping civilians directly affected by the war.
“In the beginning, I simply took money out of my pocket, quietly, to help those in need. I think that a situation like that is familiar to many: Say you know a person who is in distress and who needs help. You help that person, and that’s wonderful! Then, at some point, you realize that unfortunately, there are another million people suffering the same misfortune, which means that we are talking about systemic problems. Only a consistent approach can help us overcome these problems.”