Rinat Akhmetov’s Metinvest Group recently joined forces with United24, a fundraising platform launched by the Ukrainian government, to sell more than 100,000 bracelets bearing the message “Azovstal — A Symbol of Perseverance.”
The bracelets raised more than 94 million hryvnia, which is approximately $2.5 million. All proceeds went toward creating a fleet of naval drones for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Specifically, the funds helped the Armed Forces of Ukraine purchase 150,000 suits of body armor, tens of thousands of helmets, several hundred thermal imagers, drones, motor vehicles, mobile shelters, armored steel sheets, and other miscellaneous military equipment.
People from 43 nations in addition to Ukraine purchased the bracelets. Each bracelet bore a trident — the national symbol of Ukraine — for decoration and sold for around $40. Metinvest workers produced the bracelets with the Rolling Mill 360 at the Azovstal plant, which served as bomb shelters for soldiers protecting the country in the earliest days of the war.
More Than Just Jewelry
Metinvest owner Rinat Akhmetov recently explained to the press that his steel company used the last batch of pre-war steel from its Azovstal branch to make the bracelets. Sova jewelers created the design, delivery service Nova Poshta delivered the bracelets, and online retailer Rozetka sold the bracelets without keeping any of the profits. As of December 2022, all 100,000 bracelets were sold out.
When the Russian Federation began its full-scale attack on Ukraine in February 2022, Metinvest’s Azovstal plant stood as the last line of defense for the Armed Forces of Ukraine based in the port city of Mariupol.
For Ukrainian citizens, the name Azovstal came to symbolize the perseverance and courage of members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who had to rise to the occasion and be stronger than steel. Thanks to this sentiment, Metinvest’s first batch of 30,000 bracelets, created in October 2022, sold out in three days.
Metinvest produced another 70,000 bracelets in November, and it took less than one month for them to sell out completely. Factory workers made the bracelets from the steel letters in front of the Azovstal plant that read “Believe in ZSU” (Armed Forces of Ukraine). The letters were at the foot of the Ukrainian flag in Kyiv for more than a month before the factory workers repurposed them.
How Metinvest Became Involved in Bracelet Production
Rinat Akhmetov created a military initiative called Steel Front in early 2022, of which “Azovstal — A Symbol of Perseverance” was a part. Since the war started nearly one year ago, Metinvest has provided more than 1.4 billion hryvnia to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The company saw its involvement in bracelet production as a creative way to raise funds to support a noble cause near to the hearts of every Ukrainian.
Metinvest Group — Ukraine’s Largest Employer Since 2006
Metinvest established itself as a vertically integrated steel and mining company in 2006. Since then, several steel and mining businesses have been established under the parent company Metinvest Group. The company produces approximately 11 million tons of crude steel each year, making it the 42nd largest steelmaker in the world and the largest in Ukraine.
The Metinvest Group and its family of companies saw its fortunes change in February 2022 when the Russian Federation first attacked. Many of its plants, in addition to Azovstal, have been direct targets of Russian aggression.
Despite having to evacuate and close several plants, company leadership remains committed to supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the citizens of Ukraine the best they can. In the meantime, Akhmetov intends to sue Russia for the vast damage its attacks have caused to Metinvest Group as a whole.