NewsGerman firms caught rebuilding Russian-occupied Mariupol, report reveals

German firms caught rebuilding Russian-occupied Mariupol, report reveals

Mariupol was almost completely destroyed. Now the Russians want to rebuild it.
Mariupol was almost completely destroyed. Now the Russians want to rebuild it.
Images source: © ABACA, PAP EPA

6:27 AM EDT, April 5, 2024

The German television channel ARD has disclosed that German firms are assisting in the reconstruction of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, currently under Russian occupation. The channel's journalists have uncovered compelling evidence that leaves no room for doubt. Mariupol, which was nearly entirely devastated and taken over by Russia in 2022 following its attack on Ukraine, is at the center of this controversy.

The German journalists' revelations have been confirmed by the Ukrainian website Prawda (Truth). The firms implicated are Knauf and WKB Systems, both of which are involved in the city's reconstruction efforts. The evidence includes photographs and videos from within Mariupol itself, along with the companies' annual reports.

Evidence obtained by journalists is irrefutable. It includes sightings of Knauf-branded sacks at a construction site. "Prawda" reported that this is the same company that had earlier announced its role in providing building materials for residences of officials from the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Nikolaus Knauf, the company's founder, has served as an honorary consul in Russia for over two decades. According to Ukrainian "Prawda," he retained this role even after Crimea's annexation and criticized sanctions against Russia as "terrible." Knauf has a lengthy history of conducting business in Russia and has highlighted his role in employing thousands and generating billions in revenue.

Another firm reaps benefits in Russia

"Prawda" also uncovers that concrete blocks bearing the WKB Systems GmbH logo, wrapped in distinctive green foil, have been spotted at numerous construction sites. This company is known for supplying facilities with equipment for producing concrete blocks.

Viktor Budarin, a Russian oligarch and the main shareholder of WKB Systems is currently not facing any sanctions. Investigations reveal that for several years, the company has been providing comprehensive machinery for producing aerated concrete blocks, which were sent from Germany to Russia and then to Budarin's second company for use in Mariupol's reconstruction.

It's crucial to remember that Mariupol has been under Russian control since May 2022. Before the conflict erupted, it was among Ukraine's largest cities, with a population exceeding 400,000. The city's destruction level is vast, with estimates indicating that up to 90 percent of it has been damaged. The Russians plan to rebuild it as their own, symbolizing a triumph in their invasion of Ukraine.

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