Writen by Oleksiy Goncharenko, Member of Parliament, European Solidarity Party, Ukraine
Russia received more than $20 billion from the export of ores and metals last year. A colossal amount that allows the dictator and butcher Putin to wage war against Ukraine and the entire civilized world. Metal from Russian blast furnaces goes to military factories, turning into tanks, shells, and guns to kill Ukrainians. At the same time, this metal is now unloaded in the ports of Italy, Germany, and Belgium.
Europe pays almost more to Russia for iron ore and metal than it helps Ukraine in general to resist Russian aggression. It’s impossible to imagine that Britain or the United States during the Second World War would have bought from Nazi Germany the industrial gas that was abundantly used in the death camps. But for some reason 80 years later, after the atrocities of the Russian army in Bucha, Izyum, the West willingly buys metal from the same cannibal as Hitler. There was an attempt by the European Union to stop funding the Putin regime through an embargo on Russian metal products in March. But six months later it has become clear that it failed.
Only small groups of Russian metal products were included in the package of sanctions, but the main Russian export, which generates billions of dollars in profit for the Putin regime and its wallets, remained unaffected. These are iron ore, pellets, hot briquette iron (DRI), pig iron, slabs, and billets.
We need a total ban on the import of products from the Russian mining and metallurgical complex of all forms and manifestations. This is not gas or even oil. Buying the metal in Russia today is the same as subsidizing the production of Russian tanks and shells. Russian metallurgy is not a private, independent from the state, open and transparent business. There is no Elon Musk, no entrepreneurial genius. This is just a bunch of Soviet plants, that were once given to the management of people close to power, who later became the 5 richest people in Russia. These people owe their wealth to Putin. They are the pillars of his regime, his wallets. They receive state awards from his hands and publicly praise the leader. They are the “collective Putin” who has declared war on the West and is trying to destroy the world order.
Right now Putin’s metallurgy oligarchs are rapidly loading armored factories in the Urals with steel so that the hundreds of thousands of Russians mobilized by Putin can come to Ukraine. They pay billions of rubles into the military budget allowing Putin to finance the war.
Not even all of these oligarchs have come under Western sanctions so far. The sanctions bypassed Vladimir Lisin, a longtime close friend of Putin and the owner of the largest Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works in Russia. There are no restrictions for Lisin to sell his metal in Europe and use the proceeds to help friends build tanks for the war against the Ukrainians and finance Russian propaganda in the EU. Joint-stock company “Ural Steel”, which is a part of Metalloinvest of the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, is a recognized supplier of Uralvagonzavod, Russia’s key tank manufacturer. For the Europeans themselves, Russian steel is the same weapon that destroys the economy and the well-being of its citizens. There were 3 large metallurgical plants in the EU closed at once for the last month leaving thousands of people without work. These plants have no chance to compete with Russian metal producers at the current record prices for gas and electricity. These are links in the same chain. First Putin provokes an energy crisis and rise in prices, then he destroys European manufacturers by flooding the European market with his products.
There is now a wide discussion regarding the 10th package of sanctions. It can really correct all the mistakes and finally close the way for Russian metal and raw materials to Europe. This package should include all the “hellish sanctions” which was promised by the Western world and even more.