The weapons and bombs used by the Russian army in the attacks on Ukrainian cities were made with the help of Russian oligarchs.
According to the Lithuanian news agency LRT, at least 82 Russian oligarchs are producing weapons for Russia’s war against Ukraine, most of them not under EU sanctions.
Russia’s wealthiest people have business ties to the military or are otherwise involved in supporting the war in Ukraine. These are the findings of a study by Proekt, an independent investigative journalism portal, as reported by LRT.
According to the publication, the weapons used by the Russian army against the population of Bucha and the bombs dropped on Mariupol were manufactured with the help of Russian oligarchs.
According to Ekaterina Reznikova, one of the authors of the study, the research aimed to find out how many people on the Forbes list of Russia’s wealthiest citizens support Russia’s war against Ukraine. The journalist notes that although most of the people on the list do not publicly declare their position on the war, they secretly support Russia financially.
“We estimated 81 people, but thanks to our readers, we’ve added one more person to the list. The added person is the owner of a company that sells computer equipment. He sells computers and other office equipment in the occupied territories. His company is involved in the removal of children and the theft of children,” Reznikova told LRT Radio.
As the investigation revealed, Russian oligarchs are contributing to the war in Ukraine in very different ways. Some of them produce components for bombs, others produce tanks and planes, while others provide various communication and insurance services.
To make it easier to keep track, the journalists have taken specific war crimes, such as the massacre in Bucha or the bombing of Mariupol, and listed all the Russian rich who may have contributed to the commission of these crimes.
“In terms of statistics, who contributes the most is the billionaire Mikhail Shelkov. He is the owner of the company VSMPO-Avisma. This is a company that produces titanium compounds. The biggest buyers of their products have been the Boeing and Airbus companies. They supplied titanium to the Russian army for the production of armoured personnel carriers and planes that are now fighting in Ukraine.”
“In second place is Yuri Kovalchuk, an oligarch very close to Putin. He has concluded insurance contracts worth 47 billion roubles with the army. And in third place is Boris Rotenberg, who is also very close to Putin. His company was involved in constructing facilities, transporting and installing equipment. This included high-frequency equipment, which is also used in the military industry,” she said.
As Reznikova points out, almost all of these Russian oligarchs – 80 out of 82 – are sanctioned in one way or another. The problem is, however, that most of the time, these sanctions are only announced on the Ukrainian side – the rich are not sanctioned in the US, Canada or the EU. “As far as EU sanctions are concerned, only 31 oligarchs are sanctioned,” the journalist says.
Asked whether she thinks this research could help to add the Russian wealthy supporting the war in Ukraine to the EU sanctions list, she says that journalists have limited power. For her, the most important thing was to bring the issue into the public domain.
“Of course, as media representatives, we cannot achieve the goal of bringing the oligarchs to legal accountability. It is up to the lawyers to work on this problem.”
“We aimed to bring the issue into the public sphere, (…) because people talk about it a little in public. In Russia, there needs to be public information about what people are helping and how they contribute to the war. (…) And let’s raise such a discussion”, says Reznikova.