Press Release: ISRP Uncovers New Evidence
ISRP Uncovers New Evidence That Russia is Likely Stealing Advanced Equipment From Ukrainian-Owned Steel Plants; Russia Aims to Improve Domestic Steel Production and Circumvent Ban on Products to Boost Sales Abroad
WASHINGTON, August 30 – The Initiative for the Study of Russian Piracy (ISRP), a new Washington-based research organization, has determined that there is a high probability Russia is in the process of stealing sophisticated equipment from two steel plants in Ukraine and shipping it to its own manufacturers to improve Russia’s sales to Europe and elsewhere.
“Russia’s own steel plants are largely antiquated, but through the illegal theft of advanced equipment made expressly for the Avozstal and Illich factories in Mariupol, Russia can boost its position as an exporter of semi-finished steel to Europe,” said James K. Glassman, a former U.S. Under Secretary of State who serves as the ISRP’s chief spokesperson.
Russia Gains as EU Still Allows Imports of Semi-Finished Steel
Three weeks after the invasion of Ukraine, the European Union banned imports of Russian finished steel products, but the EU permits imports of semi-finished products, such as slab and cast iron. Russia would benefit enormously from the theft of unique and valuable equipment developed as part of a modernization at the plants.
Sanctions currently prevent Russia from acquiring such equipment from the EU and the US. In April, Vladimir Putin signaled that improving steel production was a high priority. “We must make changes to the structure of production and the supply of Russian metallurgical products,” he said, calling for an expansion in industrial capability and the range of products Russia produces.
Mariupol Official Says Russians Dismantling Equipment at Steel Works
Currently, in addition to sales of semi-finished steel to Europe, Russia actively sells steel to Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
The ISRP cannot, with absolute certainty, confirm that the theft of sophisticated equipment from Ukraine has yet occurred, but Peter Andrushchenko, senior adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, on Aug. 19 stated that Russian occupiers had begun to cut into scrap metal and dismantle equipment at the Ilich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol – actions that signal the removal of this equipment and its shipment to Russian plants is likely imminent.
Russians Remove Ukraine as a Competitor for EU Steel Import
In one way, Russia has already benefited. Having captured Mariupol, destroyed Azovstal and Ilich Iron and Steel Works, and blocked the ports of Ukraine, the Russian Federation removed Ukraine as a competitor within European and world markets. In the past, Russia and Ukraine together supplied four-fifths of the semi-finished used by the EU to make finished steel products, including sheet, wire rod, and pipes.
“The ISRP,” said Glassman, “will continue to monitor Russia’s illegal theft of assets belonging to the Ukrainian people.” In its report last month, the ISRP identified dozens of ships that were removing stolen grain and metal from Ukraine and sending it to ports in Syria, Turkey, Russia and other countries.
ISRP’s July Report Exposes Level of Russian Theft of Grain and Metals
The ISRP is a group of former U.S. government officials, international trade experts, national security experts, and research analysts concerned by the immediate and long-term impacts of Russia’s theft of Ukrainian assets.
The group launched in July with the goal of exposing the magnitude and potential impact of Russia’s looting and released a report on July 26, estimating the total value of stolen assets at that time to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. ISRP will continue to track Russian theft and will provide updates and subsequent reports.
Call for Complete Ban on All Russian Steel Products
“What would really help,” said Glassman, “is a full-on ban of all Russian steel products, not just by the EU but by countries such as Turkey. By purchasing Russian steel, these nations are aiding in Russia’s war on Ukraine – and prolonging the terrible suffering. Now, with Russia likely to be making that steel with Ukrainian equipment, the shame and complicity are compounded.”