Rinat Akhmetov Transforms Metinvest Into a Cornerstone of Ukraine’s Defense Industry

Amid Russia’s invasion, Rinat Akhmetov’s mining and metallurgical enterprise Metinvest is playing a crucial role in supporting Ukraine’s war efforts. Despite the immense challenges of this conflict, including facing the traumatic loss of key assets in Russian-occupied territories of Donbas and the southern regions, Metinvest has leveraged its vast manufacturing infrastructure to dynamically transform itself into a military equipment powerhouse supplying absolutely vital weapons and protective gear to Ukraine’s armed forces.

“If we don’t help, nobody will,” said a Metinvest spokesperson. “Many Metinvest employees are in the army and we’re low on factory space.”

By responding with an incredible unity of purpose during an existential crisis for Ukraine’s future sovereignty, Akhmetov has reshaped Metinvest into a rapidly adaptable organization dedicated to serving the country’s defense needs above all else — even when that means overcoming severe supply chain disruptions that challenge the core operations it has built over decades. That degree of loyalty and flexibility spotlights both Akhmetov’s personal dedication to Ukraine’s security regardless of his strong regional ties to the now-occupied areas and Metinvest’s broader resilience in the face of adversity.

From Mining Giant to Military Powerhouse

Metinvest, helmed by Akhmetov as one of Ukraine’s wealthiest individuals, has undertaken a profound strategic shift during the conflict with Russia. Expanding well beyond its mining and metals roots, Metinvest now spearheads domestic production of crucial defense technologies including mine rollers, bulletproof vests, helmets, and naval vessels. This demonstrates both Rinat Akhmetov’s steadfast loyalty to Ukraine’s sovereignty and Metinvest’s impressive adaptability even with compromised supply chains.

With the Russian invasion disrupting access to the Donbas region’s abundant natural resources, Metinvest has persevered despite losing core assets like the Avdiivka coke plant and regional coal mines.

Rollers Clear Paths Through Russian Minefields

Metinvest’s initial defense foray came through designing enhanced mine rollers capable of withstanding multiple explosions, enabling Ukrainian tanks to breach Russian minefields. Production ramped up rapidly to yield five or six mine rollers monthly, despite losing the Avdiivka coke plant that previously powered Metinvest’s steel mills. This resilient output highlights the company’s commitment to empowering Ukraine’s armed forces.

Adapting aged Soviet mine roller schematics, Metinvest’s modernized rollers represent homegrown innovation under pressure. The company’s focus on continuity and improvement epitomizes Ukraine’s broader industrial mobilization to sustain its military through self-reliant means.

Comprehensive Support Across Land and Sea

Beyond mine rollers, Metinvest has contributed various supplemental ground equipment, including bunkers and body armor. Recently, Metinvest expanded its defense support portfolio into the naval domain through its Steel Front military project, delivering 10 specially designed high-speed patrol boats to maritime forces defending Ukraine’s coastal borders. Procured after a worldwide search for optimal naval craft, these light and nimble boats complement Metinvest’s adaptable, comprehensive assistance.

According to Metinvest executive Oleksandr Vodoviz, “We considered several options, looking for boats all over the world. It took about four months. In the end, we settled on one European manufacturer who was able to provide both the right quality and delivery. These boats can accommodate 10 to 12 people and will be used by the defense forces for amphibious operations in the Black Sea.”

Metinvest’s provision of custom naval vessels also highlights Ukraine’s push to control its regional waters against Russian encroachment. With these new boats enhancing their maneuverability, Ukraine’s naval defenses gain an asymmetrical edge to counter Russia’s naval attacks.

Metinvest’s ascent into defense technology epitomizes Ukraine’s broader industrial mobilization. Ukraine is rallying its domestic companies to gain self-sufficiency. This ground-up movement is empowering homegrown innovation to sustain the country now while cultivating independence for the future. Rinat Akhmetov’s redirection of Metinvest sits at the forefront of this national resilience.

Despite profound adversity, Akhmetov’s strategic leadership has transformed Metinvest into a cornerstone of Ukraine’s defense industry. This is a story of incredible national unity during a crisis, with Ukraine’s most successful business owner placing company resources firmly behind the defense of the country. Both Metinvest’s flexibility and Akhmetov’s resolute loyalty continue lighting the path toward Ukrainian victory.

“Our people have not only restored the energy grid and survived, but also showed Putin that we will never stop fighting for our freedom,” Rinat Akhmetov told Forbes. “He thought that Ukrainians would shower him with flowers, but we have met Russian soldiers with guns defending every inch of our homeland.”

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